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Barely a year after the release of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, do we really need another Elvis Presley movie? Luhrmann’s maximalist pop biopic felt like it had the first and last word on its subject, as well as most any other words that could be inserted between them. But in Venice this year, Sofia Coppola found a fruitful – if not to say breathtakingly beautiful – new line of attack.

Of course, as her title makes clear, Priscilla doesn’t focus on Elvis at all. Its central character, interpreted with attention and tenderness by Cailee Spaeny, is his wife of six years, whom he met at the age of 14, and he at 24, during his military service. But even armed with that knowledge, nothing can really prepare you for Priscilla not being an Elvis movie.

For one thing, having been made without the cooperation of Elvis Presley Enterprises (Coppola adapted the film from Priscilla Presley’s memoir), it contains none of her songs. On the other hand, there are only snippets of performance here and there: a few seconds of the 1968 Comeback Special; a brief back shot of the stage at the Hilton in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Elvis himself, played with aloof nonchalance by Jacob Elordi, is an oblique, sometimes even fringe figure – a neatly styled image with uncertain substance behind.

Like Coppola’s Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette and Somewhere, the film is another tale of a young woman trapped in a gilded cage – with generational idol Elvis serving as both jailer and bait for Priscilla. We first encounter her as a series of fragments – an eyelid brushed by mascara, carefully pedicured toes digging into a pile of coral hair – before the film returns to 1959, where she is a teenage dream of Norman Rockwell, wearing a fluffy pink sweater and sipping Coke, bored, at the counter of a faux-American restaurant on a West German military base. Frankie Avalon’s Venus plays on the soundtrack – “Please send me a little girl to shiver,” she croons – before an associate in Elvis uniform walks up and invites him to a party to meet his famous friend.

Coppola and Spaeny portray Priscilla at first as a schoolgirl with an impossible crush on a pop star who, even more impossible, turns out to be mutual. (At 6’5, Elvis d’Elordi towers above his 5’1 bride-to-be – a difference Coppola exploits in the frame to encapsulate the couple’s power dynamics.)

telegraph UK

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Source : kvagent

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