Sofia Coppola portrays with great sensitivity the life of Priscilla alongside Elvis Presley

“Priscilla” is the biopic about Priscilla Ann Beaulieu Presley, written and directed by Sofia Coppola, who has crafted an excellent adaptation of the memoirs of the woman who was the great love of Elvis Presley, published in 1985 under the title “Elvis and Me”.

Priscilla and Elvis, their true love story

Without wanting to reveal too many details about their love story, as it’s something you’ll see in the movie, we do want to tell you that we really liked how Sofia Coppola shows the unknown side of a great American myth, and fundamentally that of his ex-wife, Priscilla, the undisputed protagonist of the film.

The tenth film by the Oscar-winning writer for “Best Original Screenplay” for “Lost in Translation” traces their long courtship and love story to their turbulent and disappointing marriage. That is, from when they met and fell in love immediately after a chance encounter at a military base in Germany when Priscilla Beaulieu was just 14 years old and Elvis Presley was 24, until they started living together at Graceland, got married, started a family, and later divorced. All of this, sprinkled with all kinds of excesses, drugs, infidelities, absences, appearances, fame, and great doses of patriarchy and objectification, which also reveal a very different image of the Elvis that “we all know”.

“Sofia shows us the flip side of life between Priscilla and one of the most popular cultural icons of the 20th century.”

Hence, another achievement of Coppola is to depict the psychological abuse that Priscilla endured, living under the dictates of Elvis, until she, tired of the monotony, betrayals, and ostracism, decided to “leave the marriage”, as she confesses herself, to live her own life, even if it meant the unthinkable: leaving the “king of rock and roll,” whom despite everything, she still loved.

The best: The extraordinary performances of Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi – both are sublime. And we’re not just talking about the characterization, which is also remarkable, but about how they immerse themselves in their characters, making us surrender to them without reservations -, the creative direction, the sensitivity, and the elegance with which Sofia Coppola tells the story and how she delves into the emotions, especially those of Priscilla, but also of Elvis. Of course, the beautiful cinematography by Philipe Le Sourd, the editing by Sarah Flack, a frequent collaborator of the director, and the exceptional soundtrack, which includes the hit “How You Satisfy Me” by The Spectrum, the English psychedelic pop band from the late 60s, which we can’t get out of our heads.

The worst: Despite having all the ingredients Made in Sofia Coppola and despite the captivating story being well-directed and well-acted, it doesn’t surpass her most masterful films. Nevertheless, we recommend it for all the reasons mentioned above.

Reflections from Sofia Coppola on Priscilla Presley’s memoirs

I was deeply moved by the reading of Priscilla Presley‘s memoirs, in which she recounts her life at Graceland at a very young age; through the perspective of the character, I have tried to capture, without passing any judgment, what it meant to enter Elvis‘s world.

I have always been interested in the idea of identity, of transformation. This movie shows how Priscilla became the person she is now, what femininity means to her and to the next generation.

She experienced the same thing that many young women go through when entering adulthood, but she did it in an unexpected, luxurious environment.

Priscilla‘s story is unique and, at the same time, very relatable.

“I was deeply moved by the reading of Priscilla Presley’s memoirs, in which she recounts her life at Graceland at a very young age.”

At the age of 21, she was already one of the most famous women in the world, the symbolic “queen of rock and roll”. However, hardly anyone knew Priscilla Presley, the great love of Elvis Presley and his only wife. Her presence was overshadowed by the enormous brilliance of her husband, but in the margins, there is another story, a story that reflects the culture of that time, the story of the dreams of a girl who grew up in a prefabricated fairy tale and ended up embracing her real desires, as well as the layers and complexity of power.

Therefore, I made an effort to show everything from Priscilla‘s point of view. This is not about Elvis the performer, but about how she saw him in his private life and his vulnerability as an artist. At no point did I want to denigrate him. I wanted him to be a human being with his flaws and to see him as Priscilla saw him in order to understand him differently. Elvis seems understanding to me, although there are moments when he is not likable, he has ups and downs, but I believe there was a lot of love in their relationship.

“Elvis and Priscilla are a legendary couple, but not much is known about her.”

Although Elvis and Priscilla are a legendary couple, not much is known about her. Her story shook me as much as discovering what it meant to her. She describes in great detail what it was like growing up in such a different world. I couldn’t shake it from my mind, and one day I decided to call her and ask if she had considered selling the rights to the book for a movie. She said she would think about it. But at the time, the idea didn’t appeal to her, and besides, she seemed like a very private person.

I couldn’t believe it when she called me back to say she agreed. It was the first time I had faced a project where the person was alive and I could ask them questions. Priscilla was willing to answer my questions and give me details that added a lot to the movie. Priscilla Presley is one of the executive producers of the film.

Also, it was very important to me that Priscilla Presley felt comfortable with the film. It’s her story, and I had to respect the truth. The difficulty lay in finding the balance to express what I wanted while making her feel good about it.

It meant a lot to me when, after watching the movie, she said it had moved her and that Cailee Spaeny had managed to express how she truly felt at the time and what she had experienced.

I have the impression that it is the first time Priscilla is under the spotlight. Everything is focused on her and not on Mrs. Elvis Presley.

I want viewers to identify with her story because that’s what I felt reading the book. Even though the setting may not be the most common, Priscilla‘s feelings are universal; she goes through things that happen to all women, whether it’s her first kiss, her first day of school, or becoming a mother…

It’s also important to consider that we’re talking about a different era when it was assumed in most households that women should stay at home and not have a career. I know many women from that generation. My mother belongs to that generation, and the idea was that a nice house, a successful husband, and children should satisfy any woman. If they wanted more, it meant something was wrong with them. I think this generated a lot of conflict. It’s the generation that raised me, but when I see my daughters, none of them would consider a man’s opinion. I was very interested in observing that era and seeing how I straddle both generations.

“I have the impression that it’s the first time Priscilla is under the spotlight. Everything is focused on her and not on Mrs. Elvis Presley.”

On the other hand, I have always been interested in seeing how people find their way and shape their identity, especially when in an unfamiliar situation, in a world that is not their own, and how they manage to move forward. I think we all fall in love with someone and then, over time, we hope to have the chance to rediscover ourselves. Not everyone finds the strength to leave when things go wrong.

Therefore, Priscilla‘s story seems to me to have tremendous strength and she was able to find her own identity. She was my inspiration. She showed tremendous courage to leave her marriage at that time, in the early 1970s, without having a job and, therefore, income. It must have been very difficult because her identity was being Mrs. Elvis Presley. Honestly, I was impressed that she was able to leave and start a life of her own.

“Not everyone finds the strength to leave when things go wrong.”

In theaters on February 14th.

(*) Cover photo, still photo 1, slider photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and by Philipe Le Sourd; Still photo 2, slider photos 5, 11, and 12 by Sabrina Lantos; Slider photo 10 by Ken Woroner. The photographs and reflections by Sofia Coppola have been provided by BTEAM Pictures.