KSL Movie Show review: ‘Priscilla’ isn’t pretty, but it rings true
Nov 6, 2023, 11:34 AM | Updated: 1:53 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — I love Elvis Presley. Or perhaps, I wasn’t given the chance to do otherwise as a young man. My mom’s family migrated from Tennessee to California after World War II, bringing their love for Elvis with them. My mom’s favorite sister and my favorite aunt, Aunt Deane, was a huge Elvis fan, went to see him live on multiple occasions and made her nieces and nephews listen to “The King” nearly every weekend growing up.
August 16, 1977, was a very difficult day. I was a new teller at a Wells Fargo branch in Turlock, Calif., mostly women-run. In mid-afternoon on that Tuesday, a handful of the ladies came running, crying out of the break room with the news — Elvis Presley was dead. They were so inconsolable, that we nearly had to close the bank doors for the day. True story.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because I was apprehensive about this biographical drama “Priscilla“.
I was afraid the story would be a one-sided slam of my cultural hero and I was all prepared to either brush it off or accept it and try to separate the man from the music.
What I got instead, was a sincere attempt [I thought] to tell Priscilla’s story from her perspective, but also with a conflicted sense of loyalty to “the love of her life.” I think she and director Sofia Coppola accomplished that — mostly.
Picking Cailee Spaeny to play Priscilla was an excellent choice. She had to have the range of someone from 14 to 27 years of age, with all the accompanying innocence to eventual heartache. Jacob Elordi, on the other hand, had the charisma and charm of Elvis but was so blasted tall at 6-foot-5 while Elvis was just a hair over 6 feet, that it drove me nuts. I know that sounds trivial, but Cailee was 5-foot-1, and real Priscilla was 5-foot-4, so the difference was even more pronounced. To me, it would be like Dwayne Johnson as the lead in the “Kevin Hart Story”.
I simply couldn’t get past it, but that’s on me.
That aside, yes, Elvis did meet Priscilla in Germany when she was 14 and he was 24.
However, this is where it doesn’t go well for Presley. He was sleeping with other women, while keeping Priscilla on the shelf, like a precious little China doll. No one disputes that, except Elvis at the time, who lied through his pretty, white teeth every time Priscilla confronted him about his numerous tabloid-fueled affairs. Not cool.
So what you have here is a unique, troubled relationship between a self-centered superstar and a sweet, but manipulated young woman who was forced to grow up in a star-studded petri dish called Graceland.
KSL Movie Show on “Priscilla”
“Priscilla” is not a pretty picture by any means, but it’s one that painfully rings true. And I’m just going to have to live with that.
PRISCILLA is rated R for drug use and some language. Wide release in theaters. Starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi. Co-written and directed by Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation” “Marie Antoinette”) — filmed in Toronto. 113 minutes.