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Homeentertainment'Priscilla' movie review: Nuanced story of Elvis as seen by wife Priscilla

'Priscilla' movie review: Nuanced story of Elvis as seen by wife Priscilla

Superstardom is always a double-edged sword. While stars are catapulted to astronomic heights, the fall can be equally severe, especially on the family front which demands level-headed commitment. Sofia Coppola’s latest release ‘Priscilla’ deserves appreciation for its nuanced exploration of Elvis Presley’s tempestuous marital life. It is told from his wife Priscilla Ann Presley’s perspective. 

The film chronicles the romance between rock and roll star Elvis (Jacob Elordi) and Priscilla (Cailey Spainey). In 1959, 24-year-old Elvis meets 14-year-old Priscilla during his assignments in Germany as a US Army soldier. Depicting a period coinciding with Elvis’ professional peak, it portrays their romance, courtship and marriage. Priscilla’s confrontation with Elvis over his affairs and narcissistic life leads to a change within her, helping her character blossom further.

The film succeeds in portraying Priscilla’s metamorphosis from a young fan girl fascinated by Elvis’ success to a mature woman who asserts herself while dealing with a turbulent marriage. It also strikes the right notes while depicting the frailties of stardom and how stars live in a parallel world bereft of reality. However, instead of painting Elvis in complete black, the makers are mature enough to depict him as a victim entrapped by the darker side of stardom. For the Indian audience, the tale is a reminder of Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia — another star couple with a sizeable age difference, where the former’s superstardom eventually drove them apart. However, the audience may be right in asking for a more colourful picturisation than the family friendly scenes that turn quite boring, especially when Elvis’ career and their decade-and-a-half-long association had so much to offer. 

Spainey puts on a moving performance that covers various contours of her inner struggle. She reaches her peak in scenes of emotional conflict. Elordi strikes a much closer resemblance to Elvis than Austin Butler who played the star in ‘Elvis’ (2022). He plays an eccentric role with conviction. While it is primarily a two-performer show, sensible depictions of Priscilla’s father as a calm, objective army man and the contrasting presence of Elvis’ father as a strict authoritarian, take the audience through the different characters that were integral in the couple’s life.

Watch it to learn more about the clamour behind the glamour associated with several matinee idols.

(Published 15 December 2023, 22:20 IST)

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