Priscilla: An Idiosyncratic Biopic


Priscilla Presley’s side of the story was made into a film by Sofia Coppola. 

For years, Hollywood has overwhelmingly saturated us with music-related biopics. There haven’t been many good biopics in the last 10 years, except for Straight Outta Compton, Rocketman, or documentaries like Moonage Dream. I didn’t particularly like Elvis. And I’m into Baz Luhrmann’s filmmaking style. 

Sometimes, it could be better to tell the story from another point of view. And we got that with Priscilla. The new film by Sofia Coppola tells the story of Priscilla Beaulieu (aka Priscilla Presley) from her viewpoint since she met the legendary rockstar to the moment she left his mansion for good. During these 10 years, we see Priscilla’s (Cailee Speany) perception of Elvis (Jacob Elordi) as he tells her nice things, they cuddle, take pills, share those pills with her, hang out with his entourage, and has aggressive outbursts. 

Great Young Talent

Both Speany and Elordi are outstanding in their respective roles. Elordi is still the handsome devil we see in Euphoria. He’s excellent at playing a horrible, manipulative man. Speany is very charming as the title character. Every scene and every emotion is on point. It’s an honest depiction of two people living in an exploitative world. 

Though both people were exploited in some way or another. There’s another movie in which a cartoonish version of Colonel Tom Parker takes advantage of him. This film is about Priscilla’s standpoint on her relationship with the one grooming, controlling, and taking all the frustrations on her. It’s very dark material for a movie that looks so glamorous. 

We can leave it to Sofia Coppola to tell a dark story with catchy rock n roll tunes and all the excesses portrayed like a good time. This film works well as a follow-up to Coppola’s own Marie Antoinette. Like Antoinette, the director doesn’t insult our intelligence with somber and ominous musical queues to tell us we should feel sad or worried about the protagonist. 

Property of A24

Brilliant Storytelling

We are watching their story according to their standpoint in real-time. Both characters are held in a world that looks amusing from the outside, and things will only get devastating when they grow up and realize it. In the meantime, the needle drops, and the cinematography will be as blissful and exciting as those characters feel. It’s almost like we are inside their head. Watching and hearing everything that’s outside and inside. 

That is what makes Sofia Coppola so brilliant at character-driven storytelling. She reminded us with this film that she can capture their emotions sonically and visually. And she did with Priscilla, her best movie in many years. 

So yeah, mainstream studios should take notes. Allow filmmakers to take a real-life story and make it their own. Let them make an idiosyncratic biopic. 

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