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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Priscilla (M) - 113 minutes

Updated: Feb 2

Priscilla Beaulieu was only 14 when she met 24-year-old Elvis Presley at a party he held in his rented home in Germany while he was undertaking military service.

 

And that is where their mutual infatuation started.

 

It is also the starting point for the movie Priscilla, written and directed by Sophia Coppola, based on the book Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley, with Sandra Harmon.

 

Elvis was already a bona fide star when he met Priscilla, whose father – a captain – had been deployed to the same base where Elvis was stationed.

 

The captain took with him his wife and daughter.

It was the man who booked the music for Elvis that first approached Beaulieu to come to Elvis’ house because he was keen to see hometown girls.

 

Being in only the ninth grade, Beaulieu, while flattered, rightly said her parents wouldn’t let her.

 

It took some convincing, but Elvis was onto it.

 

After yet more overtures to Beaulieu’s father – who had to be convinced – Beaulieu started hanging out with Elvis regularly.

 

And then Elvis’ term of national service finished and he was back into the music scene, leaving Germany behind.

Also, left in his wake was Beaulieu, who he promised to keep in touch with, but that never happened. She had almost given up on him when the phone rang.

 

It was Elvis, who flew her back to the US for a visit and she was swept off her feet at Graceland, his palatial home.

 

Eventually, Beaulieu was allowed to finish her high school studies in the US, while her parents remained in Germany, on the condition that she graduated.

 

Priscilla, the movie, presents the titular character as besotted initially.

Still, she was also frequently abandoned by Elvis, while he pursued his singing career and film appearances.

 

He is shown as self-consumed, domineering and dictatorial, at times verbally abusive and angry, and emotionally fragile.

 

He is painted as a pill popper and womaniser, who tells Priscilla what to wear and how to look, while more often than not surrounded by mates and staff. 

 

In short, she puts up with a great deal – waiting around and being available at his beck and call, not to overlook his flings.

 

Cailee Spaeny does a fine job inhabiting the lead role.

 

It is a dominant portrayal, as she transitions Priscilla from naïve and vulnerable to having her eyes opened, becoming sad and disillusioned. I could feel her pain.

Jacob Elordi imbues Elvis with child-like qualities, as well as a much harder edge.

 

As Elvis’ father Vernon, Tim Post is largely unsympathetic.

 

Ari Cohen fares better as Priscilla’s well-meaning father, Captain Beaulieu.

 

I thought it was only fitting to get a perspective on The King from the person who, arguably, was the closest to him, namely Priscilla.

 

I liked the warts and all portrayal, showing it was hardly a bed of roses for her.

 

Call me a softie, but I was particularly invested in the first half of Priscilla, essentially the love story ahead of the inevitable downfall.

 

As the noose tightens, Priscilla is shown living her life in a gilded cage, while Elvis reinforces the adage that all that glitters is not gold.

 

Rated M, it scores a 7½ out of 10.

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