The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | Sofia Coppola delivers a gorgeous tragedy with ‘Priscilla’

Telling the story of Priscilla Presley’s time with Elvis Presley, ‘Priscilla’ is the newest film from Sofia Coppola and A24.
Isabella Tisdale
FilmScene at the Chauncey is seen in Iowa City on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.

Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” tells the story of Priscilla Presley’s time with Elvis from the moment they met to their eventual divorce, adapted from her novel, “Elvis and Me.”

The film being an adaptation of true events makes for a unique viewing experience. Audience members know what is going to happen and where the subjects of the film will end up, but the details and small conversations are the parts of the film that surprised me.

The film details Elvis’ problematic actions as he slowly began taking precedence in Priscilla’s life when she was only 14. These smaller moments, when Elvis’ charismatic facade drops and he shouts or snaps at Priscilla, are the real tragedy embedded in the film.

Every shot in this film was lit with such a warmth, making the visual feel very comforted amid the moments of contention. Because of this, they hit harder and made me feel even worse for Priscilla.

A highlight of the film, and what will probably be discussed the most by viewers, was the performances. Cailee Spaeny delivered an amazing Priscilla Presley; she believably portrays the naivety of being a teenager and the reserved pain and jealousy of being left at home while Elvis tours. There’s a wide range on display in her performance and it really carried the movie.

But Jacob Elordi’s performance as Elvis was completely different from other popular interpretations.

Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 film “Elvis” starring Austin Butler was a much more glorifying depiction of the singer. The film was colorful and loud, centering on the concerts and music of Elvis’ career.

Elordi’s portrayal is a lot less theatrical and feels more grounded, an interesting and unique depiction of Elvis just a year after Butler’s performance.

The Elvis depicted in “Priscilla” lashes out at his wife and tries to control aspects of her life, similar to the way he is micromanaged by his boss Colonel Tom Parker. I found his performance to be much more nuanced and layered than Butler’s.

Before the film’s release, Lisa Marie Presley, the late daughter of Priscilla and Elvis, voiced her distaste for Coppola’s representation of her father. She did not agree with the “shockingly vengeful and contemptuous perspective” she felt was portrayed in the film.

Coppola’s film is full of complex performances that can be left up to interpretation, so this controversy is one that some viewers might agree with.

“Priscilla” is still entertaining despite the moments of tragedy beneath the surface of the story, and I’d highly recommend it to any fan of historical fiction movies.

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About the Contributors
Charlie Hickman, Arts Reporter
Charlie Hickman is a sophomore at the University of Iowa. He is majoring in English on the Pre-Law track with minors in Political Science and Cinema.
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.