Priscilla: A movie about how boring Rock N Roll romance really is.

Sofia Coppola’s newest movie surrounding the infamous Priscilla Presley was a spectacle of beautiful sets and glamorous costumes all surrounding a woman who, in reality, led a dreadfully boring life. The film was based on Priscilla’s memoir, Elvis & Me, from 1985, a book that detailed her romance with Elvis Presley, in all its glory and lowliness. 

The film is Coppola’s tenth movie, including her debut short film Lick the Star from 1998. By now we’ve come to know her for her rosy portrayals of women, mostly known for movies such as The Virgin Suicides which depicted depressed young girls through the eyes of their male saviours. From these films we’re aware Coppola is able to write engaging characters, yet in Priscilla she purposely moves away from this. This monotone characterisation is done purposefully to show how dull Priscilla’s life was whilst dating Presley. I saw her lack of personality as intentional, to display how girls give themselves up to impress the men around them. To girls around the globe it may have seemed like she had everything: money, Graceland and Elvis. In reality, she had nothing of her own. Her life was dedicated to him from age 14, whilst Elvis saw Priscilla as just another young girl to charm.

In the film, we see a plethora of behaviour where Elvis is averse to Priscilla simply as she was. He suggests she should dye her hair darker, wear more makeup, and change how she dresses. When she becomes pregnant he tells her they should have a break since she isn’t very attractive to him anymore. This scene that broke me, as once again it showed how men view women as the elusive nymphs they desperately want to catch until those same women grow into mothers and they lose that attraction completely. It pained me to see Priscilla so willingly accept defeat as she didn’t want to cause even further division with the man she loved so deeply, an experience many young women, like myself, have gone through before. 

There are countless scenes of Priscilla in Elvis’ Graceland home, laying in bed, taking pills and sleeping the day away with a morbid Elvis beside her; a much bleaker image of the two than has been previously portrayed in other adaptations. We get an insight into how dating Elvis, the man of the moment, was not all it was viewed to be. There’s little to say of Priscilla’s character as she has little personality outside of her relationship with Elvis; she can’t have many friends, she can’t act like the young girl she is, she can’t be her own person and be with Elvis. It’s all him or nothing at all. That is where the misery of this film comes from, the lack of autonomy she truly has. 

Furthermore, it’s difficult not to notice the uncomfortable age gap between the two. In the beginning when Priscilla is 14, 10 years his junior, Elvis clearly states she’s just a child, yet he continues to pursue her. When she turns 16, she moves to Graceland and is trapped inside his home, only ever leaving to attend school and being specifically told to not bring friends home since they only care to see Elvis. She even uses her relationship with Elvis to cheat on a test, asking a girl if she lets her read her answers she can meet Elvis as payment. 

By the end, when Priscilla eventually leaves Elvis and ‘I Will Always Love Youby Dolly Parton plays, I was left feeling empty. I watched a girl, a little younger than me, try to be everything for Elvis and fall short. To know how it feels at the tender age of 14 wanting to give up your life and aspirations, all for the man of your dreams who drains your spirit and is far beyond your years, and yet still never being enough is a sentiment many of us understand all too well.

By Rhi Skelhorn

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *