NUNN'S THEATER HABIT
Priscilla is a picture perfect lesson in patience
Fri. November 3, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
The new motion picture Priscilla is based on the 1985 book Elvis and Me: The True Story of the Love Between Priscilla Presley and the King of Rock N' Roll, which was written by Priscilla Presley with Sandra Harmon. A television movie was adapted from the book in 1988 and Sofia Coppola adapted the latest version. The unusual love story begins with the first meeting between Priscilla and Elvis and continues through their divorce.
Actress Cailee Spaeny turns up the meekness of “Cilla” and has already earned the Volpi Cup for Best Actress in the role. Jacob Elordi towers over her as he is five inches taller than Elvis. He captures the essence of Elvis and when he stands in front of his classic black car to pick Priscilla up it is obvious why she would fall for his boyish good looks.
Lisa Marie Presley was reported to be concerned with this possible depiction of Elvis and what it would mean to his legacy and estate. Unfortunately, she passed away before she saw the end result, but it doesn't come off as a smear campaign from a bitter ex-wife in any way.
The story has a great deal to say about fame and how women are treated as objects and not as people. Priscilla was stuck in a Barbie playhouse and taken out to play when Elvis deemed it was appropriate. He even sang about it in “Baby, Let's Play House” with haunting lyrics such as “I'd rather see you dead, little girl than to be with another man.”
Like a need to confess, artists often display who they are in their work. Priscilla did this as well as Elvis with this behind-the-scenes memoir that gave her a voice at a time when his fans accused her of biting the hand that feeds.
In 2023, it is interesting to look back at their history together with a new lens of knowledge.
We now know how grooming works and that fame is power. Priscilla was 14 years young when she met Elvis and it is easy to see why the child would be swept away by The King's affections.
This film plays to the visual strengths of Coppola as she is known for capturing time periods through styling and costumes.
On a recent conference call, Coppola stated how pleased she was that she could consult with Priscilla as it was her first title subject who was still living at the time of filming. The real-life Priscilla didn't visit the set because she didn't want to make the cast nervous so instead supported and answered questions from afar.
The soundtrack is packed full of nostalgia and Lana Del Rey was nearly featured but the timing didn't work out. Members of the band Phoenix, Laurent Brancowitz and Coppola's husband Thomas Mars were part of the music supervision team involved.
If Coppla's Priscilla is compared to last year's Baz Luhrmann's Elvis then think of a VCR. Elvis hits the fast-forward button and Priscilla is stuck in slow motion which becomes a lesson in patience by the end. The story takes its time in the overall pace and might be trying to convey the isolation that Priscilla experienced.
This side of the Presley story is important to convey no matter how much it might shock the public. It is a glimpse into the world behind Graceland that many were shocked by and continue to be to this day.
Priscilla fits in well with the unconventional storytelling that entertainment company A24 excels at. Dicks: The Musical is now playing in the theaters at the same time and it is A24's first musical release. Dicks might be the least commercial of all the movies released by A24. It's the story of long-lost twins who try to reunite their divorced parents.
This odd piece that was birthed out of improvisational skits and just like live theater either works or doesn't. Campy Nathan Lane is magnetic while Megan Mullaly struggles with her character voice. Megan Thee Stallion dominates in her scenes and Bowen Yang attempts to offend everyone before the bitter end.
Audiences should prepare for a wild and unforgettable trip to Dicks.
A24 debuts Nicholas Cage's new nightmare of a film called Dream Scenario on November 17 in Chicago area cinemas.