With the 2022 release of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis and Sofia Copolla’s long-awaited return to filmmaking in the 2023 film Priscilla, we are stuck in a fix of Elvis fever. However, this movie isn’t really about Elvis at all. Based on the book Elvis and Me, co-authored by Priscilla Presley herself, the film delves into the tender romance between the Presleys and Priscilla’s life in the gilded cage of marriage superstardom.
A reviewer at the Rolling Stones considers the film Copolla’s best project since her 2003 film Lost in Translation. During the press conference following the film screening at the Cannes Film Festival, a journalist asked Priscilla what in the film moved her most, to which she responded, “The end,” when her younger self decided to leave the substance-influenced Elvis. Priscilla added, “It’s very difficult to sit and watch a film about you and about your life and about your love. Sofia did an amazing job. She did her homework.”
Controversially, the film does not shy away from the fact Priscilla was only fourteen when she met the iconic rockstar, who was ten years her senior. The couple met in West Germany while Elvis was enlisted in the army. Priscilla has been open about the infamous age gap, insisting it wasn’t as felt as it is today. She told the conference, “Even though I was 14, I was actually a little bit older in life – not in numbers. That was the attraction.” She continued, “He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old. We were more in line in thought, and that was our relationship.”
The film is unreserved about Elvis’ grooming of the young Priscilla and how controlling he was of his eventual wife, played by Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi and Mare of Eastown’s Cailee Spaeny. Only a year and a half following Austin Butler’s Oscar-nominated career-shifting lead role in Luhrmann’s film, Elordi had big shoes to fill. The Hollywood Reporter reviewer wrote that Elordi “finds his own way into the character,” adding, “he never shies away from the more off-putting traits.” A reviewer from the Independent said the film “will make uncomfortable viewing for fans of The King.” At the premiere screening at Cannes, there was a seven-minute standing ovation, so fans of a darker, more intimate story of the iconic Priscilla won’t be disappointed.