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  • Gareth Crook

Priscilla (2023) - 6/10

I suppose this is destined to be a little controversial. After all it’s the other side of the story isn’t it and perhaps not the side that many want to hear. That said, we now live in a world when people lap controversy up and wallow in the tearing down of fame. Don’t watch this for that though, there’s real people at the core and thus this demands a little more respect. Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny) is a teenager (there’s the controversy) dragged out to a German airforce base with her parents, where “there’s nothing to do”. Turns out this is where Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi) is based too. Rather oddly she’s invited to a party at Elvis’ place and things go from there. I’m not saying this is grooming, but she’s 15 and 10 years younger than Presley. This really isn’t all that comfortable viewing. Elvis is a bit creepy and certainly manipulative. Granted it’s a different time as they say, but no one’s under any illusions as to what’s happening. “Just what is the intent here?” asks her father to Presley, but that’s about as far as any objection goes. It could be said that while Priscilla is mature (debatable), then Elvis is immature (or good at pretending). Take his fame away and he’s just a predator. Allow him the fame and everything we know, still just a predator. There’s a reason there’s none of his music in this film, I’m sure his estate tried to block this. It’s all based on Priscilla’s book though, so I guess it’s her word against those intent on upholding the myth. Back in the States, Elvis invites her to Graceland where other party goers remark “She’s young. Looks like a little girl”. Certainly not ready for what’s to come, a rollercoaster ride with a pill-popping playboy. Drinking, gambling, sex (with everyone but Priscilla), drugs… but no rock n roll. This doesn’t show the day job. What it does show is a young girl lead along, treated as a play thing when it suits Presley. She’s a doll. Kept in a box that is the inner sanctum of his trusted world. Spaeny is very good and she’s holds the focus well. As she should, it’s her story. Elordi is great as Elvis though and is overbearing when on screen. Again that’s the point. It all looks the part. It’s well acted. It’s paced well, but it’s not enjoyable. It’s frustrating. A story of abuse. Is it all Elvis’ fault. Well maybe not all of it, but he’s certainly not a nice bloke. In fact everyone is pretty obnoxious. Poor Priscilla.



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