Ignore It Or Watch It Online: Sofia Coppolas Priscilla on Max: A Reflective Reaction to Elviss Extravaganza

Ignore It Or Watch It Online: Sofia Coppolas Priscilla on Max: A Reflective Reaction to Elviss Extravaganza

Priscilla (currently playing on Max) is a film that Sofia Coppola should have cast Bill Murray in the role of Colonel Tom Parker; yet, we should evaluate the film based on its merits rather than its flaws. And what it is? It's a biopic about Priscilla Presley, based on her mega-popular 1985 memoir Elvis and Me, and it was executive produced by Priscilla herself. A year or two after Baz Luhrmann's Elvis, Priscilla came along to provide a more subdued contrast. Cailee Spaeny, who plays Priscilla, spends much of her screen time introspecting about her identity and the loneliness she experiences as the partner and spouse of one of the most famous people in history.

She paints her toes on the velvety carpet. That's basically it. She uses an eyeliner pencil, lash adhesive, and Aqua Net to shellac her hair. Priscilla as she seems here, all dolled up and superficial. We go back to 1959, at a U.S. Air Force installation in West Germany, where we witness Priscilla Beaulieu (Spaeny), a 14-year-old who is bored and unhappy, to see how she got to this position. Familiarize yourself with that. The military is her father's occupation. Texas is a place she longs to return to. In addition to being stationed here, Elvis Presley also lives in the area. Her parents, Ari Cohen and Dagmara Dominczyk, are quite hesitant but undoubtedly aware of her profound dissatisfaction, so they reluctantly let her attend to one of Elvis' parties, which is somewhat unlikely. Like, who doesn't like his music? Seated next to her, Elvis (Jacob Elordi of Saltburn and Euphoria) strikes up a conversation, mentioning how nice it is to encounter someone who brings back memories of home. After that, he takes a seat at the piano and starts playing "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," much to the joy of his visitors.

Without a doubt, that is a cover by Jerry Lee Lewis. That is something that we must not overlook. Priscilla may be small and you might think she's too girly, but being girlish isn't easy when you're still very much a girl. A date with Elvis is now in his future. They go to the movies because he acts honest and says the appropriate things to her parents; afterwards, he offers her an upper in case she gets drowsy at school. However, he is obligated to return to the United States, leaving her with little more than his military jacket, a watch he gifted her for Christmas, tabloids revealing his alleged affairs with Hollywood A-listers, and a solemn vow. After two years of waiting, Elvis contacts her with an apology that is both heartfelt and charming, but he never follows through. Given that she is still a few years away from being an adult, he makes sure that she visits him at Graceland and takes care of all the necessary formalities for temporary guardianship.

Even though Elvis's grandma and dad oversee Graceland, the mansion is always bustling with his retinue of party friends. As soon as Priscilla shows up, she and Elvis go to his bedroom, where he treats her with the utmost respect and gentlemanly behaviour, resists giving in to her cravings, and eventually puts her to sleep for two days. They transport her to Las Vegas, where she takes medications and gambles, and she returns to the German base looking... untidy. Elvis has promised to enrol her in a reputable Catholic school so that she can earn her diploma, so her next visit will be permanent. On her arrival, she finds Elvis absent. He continues filming in Los Angeles. But he did buy her a poodle to keep her company.

The vastness of Graceland dwarfs the tiny and young Priscilla. Before Elvis comes, she seems out of place in the deserted house. After he arrives, she finds herself utterly out of place among Elvis's gang of friends. He declines her offer of employment at a boutique, despite her best efforts. He brings her clothes shopping, and when she comes out of the fitting room, Elvis and his friends give her their honest opinions on how she looked. After he purchases a weapon for her, she and Elvis and his friends have a backyard gunfight. They talk nonstop as she attempts to finish her homework; on many occasions, Elvis is still sound asleep when she returns from school. Elvis is charming and humorous, but he occasionally has violent outbursts, and they like picture shoots and pillow fights when they're alone in his bedroom. They haven't had sexual relations yet. Until they're married, he'll wait.

Like Pablo Larrain's Jackie and Spencer, Coppola's Priscilla is an unconventional biopic that focuses on the private lives of three women who became famous while living next to unbelievable mega-stars. Neither film is as self-aware as the other two, but they all share an interest in the unconventional lives of these women.

Performance to Watch: Aside from Spaeny, the one performance worth mentioning is Elordi's portrayal of Elvis, which focuses on the man rather than the symbol. Here she is, centre stage, portraying Priscilla, a girl who is too innocent to have a firm grasp on who she is or her place in the world. It's quiet, heartfelt art.

Famous Line: "Don't tell me to play the goddamn Beatles in my house." This shows how competitive and sensitive Elvis gets when a buddy queries him about his jukebox playlist. I swear to god, we're in the United States.

Concerning the skin and sex, there was just that one rather racy photo session.

Our Take: We got all of that in Baz Luhrmann's film—no musical performances, no Elvis—and no Tom Parker either. In any case, we are listening to Priscilla's story, which is all about the tiny bubble that Elvis maintained for her, like a porcelain doll in a diorama. As the woman Elvis loved, fetishized and generally shielded from the craziness of his public life, we don't see wide images of Graceland; instead, it's all close-ups inside, mirroring the psychological claustrophobia she endured. In this case, Elvis's character is intriguingly multi-faceted. Our best guess is that he's trying to shield her from the limelight by avoiding public appearances and filming locations so that she doesn't get sunburned, but he may also be hoping to keep her all to himself, unspoiled and unspoiled by the world. It also allows him to cheat on her without giving her the completion she craves. This shy and sheltered adolescent girl is easy prey for his manipulative and abusive personality traits, despite his kindness and respect.

Strange as it seems, the aim of a Priscilla biography seems to be to delve so deeply into the Elvis character. She was so naive and naive about everything, a clean slate in contrast to the complicated and maybe unknown guy. He was unpredictable due to his addictions and cravings, and despite his wealth, fame, and admiration, he never really had control over his life or work. He then uses Priscilla to exert that control. He has sex with Ann-Margret, Nancy Sinatra, and maybe others, but not with her. Almost surely.

Therefore, we cling to Priscilla and her perspective. Every time Elvis leaves her, she gets all dolled up and has nowhere to go or do except wait for him to come back—which could be in an hour or a month away. A painfully blank person sits in peaceful contemplation. Her fights with Elvis explode like a volcano at those convincingly quiet times. Given Coppola's preoccupation with style and the film's flirtation with being a throwback fashion show/costume drama, the most important question we should ask Priscilla is whether or not we ever perceive something more profound in her character, as portrayed by Spaeny. Yes, in the end, even if we long for something with a little more traditional substance, anything that may make us feel something other than broad empathy for a young woman's mental health. Priscilla pauses to put on her false eyelashes while Elvis and his handlers scurry to get ready for the hospital trip, but that may not be Coppola's final purpose - it happens deep in the film. When you're a member of pop royalty, you should keep up your appearances. However, at some point, that just shows the royal family's profound anguish.

Priscilla, Our Call is a captivating and gloomy biography that sticks to its subject and doesn't try to cover too much ground. While it omits the music from the "King," the film stays faithful to Coppola's style by providing an engaging viewing experience with a score and soundtrack that evokes strong feelings. Feel free to stream it.

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based writer and film critic John Serba does freelance work.

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