(director/writer: Sofia Coppola; screenwriters: based on the memoir Elvis and Me by Sandra Harmon & Priscilla Presley; cinematographer: Philippe Le Sourd; editor: Sarah Flack; music: Phoenix; cast: Cailee Spaeny (Priscilla Beaulieu Presley), Jacob Elordi (Elvis), Ari Cohen (Captain Beaulieu), Dagmara Dominczyk (Ann Beaulieu), Tim Post (Vernon Presley), Olivia Barrett (Alberta, the cook), Daniel Beirne (Joe Esposito), Dan Abramovici (Jerry Schilling), Austin Ball (Larry Geller), Stephanie Moore (Dee); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Sofia Coppola, Lorenzo Mieli, Youree Henley; A24; 2023)
“A bittersweet biopic on Elvis’s young wife.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A bittersweet biopic on Elvis’s young wife, Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny), whom he would marry in 1967 when Priscilla was 21 and he was 32. In 1973 they were divorced. It was a less than ideal marriage, where she fought to be more independent. The film adequately covers their ten year relationship from the time Elvis met her when she was 14.
Writer/director Sofia Coppola (“On The Rocks”/”Lost in Translation”) adapts it to Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir, Elvis and Me, that’s written with sensitivity by Sandra Harmon.
It’s 1959 in Wiesbaden, Germany, where the parents of Priscilla (her army captain dad (Ari Cohen) and mother (Dagmara Dominczyk)) live near the U.S. army base. The Texas couple’s naive, army brat, 14-year-old daughter is in the 9th grade when she meets at a party the draftee rock super-star Elvis (Jacob Elordi). He is stationed at the base, and they start dating despite the big-age gap–Elvis was 24 and she was 14. The relationship met with the disapproval of her folks until they relented when they saw that’s what their daughter wanted and that Elvis always acted like a gentleman.
Elvis talks her parents into letting her stay in Graceland, in Memphis, where he pays all the bills and his bossy widowed father (Tim Post) lives with his new mate, Dee (Stephanie Moore), who both look after Priscilla. Elvis’s beloved mom had just died.
Elvis worships Priscilla as a goddess and refrains from sex with her, but has an active sex life with others. Meanwhile she attends a Catholic high school and lives a pampered life–fed uppers and downers by her controlling Man.
The film gives us an enjoyable insider look at how Priscilla described the marriage in her memoir.
It gives us a more accurate and fairer description of the so-called fairy-tale marriage than how it was presented in the recent flashier and trashier Baz Luhrmann whitewashed “Elvis.” There’s also no Colonel Parker here to show how Elvis got treated by his controlling manager in almost the same way he treated his petulant young wife.
It played at the Venice Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 9/26/2023 GRADE: B