Directed by Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation (2003); Marie Antoinette (2006); The Virgin Suicides (1999)) and starring Cailee Spaeny (Pacific Rim Uprising (2018); Bad Times at the El Royale (2018), Jacob Elordi (Saltburn (2023); The Kissing Booth (2018-2021) and Kamilla Kowal (Junction Row (2023); American Hangman (2019)).

Drama; 114 mins; 14+

In 1959, during a dull stay in Germany, where her father is stationed in the US Military, feeling alienated from the rest of her peers, fourteen-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu meets Elvis Presley, who is already at the height of his fame and ten years her senior. The acclaimed rock-and-roll superstar and all-American heartthrob is homesick and begins to court her and dote on her. He presumably sees his homeland in her and firmly believes that his mother (who passed away) would have loved her. She falls hard and fast for his charming façade and due to his meaningful, intimate gestures, promises and presents. Although he declares his intentions as honourable and seems to make every effort to have her in his life at first, he loses contact with her for over two years.

In 1962, Elvis suddenly reconnects with Priscilla, and asks that she come to the US to live with him at Graceland, his estate in Memphis, Tennessee. Elvis gifts Priscilla the flight tickets to visit, during which he welcomes her alongside his many friends and business partners, and his beloved grandmother. She manages to convince her reluctant parents to let her go live with him in America and finish her senior year of secondary school in a catholic girls’ school in Memphis.

Unlike Baz Luhrmann’s glitzy portrayal of Elvis’ life and music in his 2022 film, this is the story of a young woman who happens to end up married to a star. As she finds herself trapped in a gilded cage and sidelined in Graceland, she slowly has to become what he wants her to be. A tale of a girl ending up with an extremely controlling, unpredictable and often abusive husband. This film is not easy to watch, as most of it is a realistic portrayal of a clearly abusive relationship.

Priscilla is depicted as someone who knows her mind, despite a very lonely and restrictive existence, orbiting around an egomaniacal husband. She knows her own preferences and impulses when she has a space to explore them – this is what she eventually manages to move towards as time goes by. A harrowing viewing experience at points, though beautifully and delicately shot. Most of the film conveys a rather claustrophobic experience, less of a love story and more of a tragic tale with a happy ending.

The film is based on Priscilla Presley’s own memoir Elvis and Me and she was the film’s executive producer.

Currently screening in Luxembourg at Ciné Utopia.