By Lynn Venhaus

Women of privilege but not power in a male-dominated world has been a theme in other Sofia Coppola films, and “Priscilla” fits that mold in its look at the heavily documented superstar life of The King of Rock ‘n Roll, but from his sheltered bride’s perspective.

More style than substance, “Priscilla” could be considered a companion piece to last year’s flashier, bolder “Elvis,” and presents snapshots of the Presleys’ relationship, only hinting at deeper issues instead of delving into them.

That keeps the pair at arm’s length, meaning we don’t invest emotionally – although the performers convey believable characters. Portraying the sweet, naïve Priscilla Beaulieu, Cailee Spaeny is a stunner in a breakthrough role. As the sultry superstar, Jacob Elordi, as he has done as the bad-boy jock in “Euphoria,” implies a complexity to the singer-matinee idol that isn’t explored.

Yet, the movie is named after the homesick schoolgirl who was thrust into an intoxicating whirlwind romance that she was incapable of understanding because of her not-fully-formed emotional development (and his). After all, he was 24 and she was 14 when they met while he was stationed in the Army in Germany and her stepfather was an officer. If you fast forward 60 years later, and the couple never would have survived today’s harsh social media scrutiny.

Whether intentionally or not, Elvis doesn’t come across in the best light if we’re looking through a modern lens. Did he groom her and take advantage of an underage girl? Or were feelings pure and the connection on a different level?

But, of course, their era was a very different time in gender politics. They were married from 1967 to 1973, first meeting in 1959. After Elvis’s death in 1977,at age 42, Priscilla took over the reins of his legacy, and became generally regarded as a savvy businesswoman. She also had an acting career, most notably in “The Naked Gun” movies and on TV’s “Dallas.”

Elvis Presley Enterprises, which represents the trust and the physical estate Graceland, denied using his music catalogue for the film. Priscilla is the co-founder and former chairperson, and serves as an executive producer of this film. Music supervisor Phoenix is left to needle-drops of the time period.

In a moody, evocative way, benefitting from cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd’s lens, writer-director Coppola has created a fairy-tale fantasy, where an impressionable girl lives a surreal teenage dream. Elvis treats the dainty teenager like a doll, making sure she dresses in a certain way and creating her look according to his specifications.

Coppola has mined this point of view before, as the phrase “women in a gilded cage” has been used to describe her previous films – “The Virgin Suicides,” “Somewhere,” and “Marie Antoinette.” Coppola can and has defied expectations, for she followed up a widely panned acting turn in “The Godfather Part III” as Michael Corleone’s daughter Mary in 1990 with “The Virgin Suicides” in 1999, eventually winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for 2003’s “Lost in Translation.”

Similar to what happens to Cinderella and the handsome prince (“I was raised to be charming, not sincere”) when reality sets in during the second act of “Into the Woods,” we view a paradise lost. You can feel Priscilla’s crushing loneliness while she attends an all-girls Catholic high school in Memphis and “keeps the home fires burning” at Graceland while he was touring or making movies or hanging with his TCB entourage. The suffocating oppression is as obvious as Xanadu in “Citizen Kane” yet the film barely touches the surface of the corrupting over-indulgence.

The production design by Tamara Deverell, who has worked on several of Guillermo del Toro’s films, is meticulous in its gaudy, retro stylings of Graceland and the high life in Las Vegas. Costume designer Stacey Battat has created marvelous vintage looks for every character, but her work dressing Priscilla is exquisite in its array of colors, textures, and tiny details.

Spaeny, who played the teen who went missing in “Mare of Easttown” and has been in minor roles, shows how that isolation manifests in her character, and how she transforms from a blank slate into what Elvis wanted and expected in a wife.

At 6’ 5”, Elordi is a striking Elvis, and conveys a more human side of the legend we think we know. While a lavish lifestyle is depicted, he portrays the King as a country boy trying to navigate the pitfalls of fame whose ego has a hard time shaking off slights. He’s attempting to live up to an image he thinks he should – wine, women, song – while compartmentalizing his home life.

It would have been interesting to address more of Priscilla’s side, as she finally gets enough gumption to leave, but the film ends abruptly – just as Priscilla is coming into her own as a person. She was 28 then.

The source material is Priscilla’s memoir “Elvis and Me” from 1986, which recalls the intimate details of their private life while living a very public lifestyle. The movie indicates nuggets of truth behind the tabloid rumors, and refers to, but glosses over, his peccadillos.

But the biggest omission is getting a sense that the two had an unbreakable bond that continued after his death, which Priscilla has maintained.

While fascinating, “Priscilla” is an incomplete work, and needed more to fill in the blanks.

“Priscilla” is a 2023 biographical drama-romance, written and directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi, Ari Cohen and Dagmara Dominczyk. It is rated R for drug use and some language, and runs 1 hour, 50 minutes. It opened in theaters November 3. Lynn’s Grade: B-

IFC Films is proud to announce, “The Indie Theater Revival Project,” an initiative to support its theater partners as they reopen for audiences in the coming weeks and months. The company has put together 20 curated retrospective programs, which include approximately 200 films spanning IFC Films’ 20-year history and will make them available to cinemas across the US, starting May 29. No film rental will be due for these special engagements. A selection of the programs will also be presented at IFC Center, IFC Films’ cinema in New York City, when it reopens.

“The Indie Theater Revival Project” allows theaters to book any number of the retrospective programs, in part or in total, any time through the first month after a theater reopens. Theaters can sign up for the project and get more information at

“Independent theaters across the country have been essential partners for us at IFC Films, and we would not be where we are today without their support,” the company announced in a statement. “We wanted to take the first step and let theaters know that we are committed to helping them reopen their doors by providing a selection of films to program while the new release landscape gets back to normal.”

The 20 retrospective programs available in “The Indie Theater Revival Project” include “Yes We Cannes!” (award-winners from the Cannes Film Festival, including 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS and THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY); “Discover Together” (a slate of family-friendly documentaries including CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS and PICK OF THE LITTER); portraits of the famous and infamous (from Joan Rivers to Elaine Stritch to Che Guevara and beyond); outrageous genre favorites (including THE BABADOOK, ANTICHRIST, and THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE); and IFC Films’ greatest hits. A preliminary lineup is available at; a complete list of the programs will be announced in the coming weeks.

The first three retrospective programs to be announced are:


Greatest Hits: Indie Blockbusters from IFC Films

BOYHOOD (Richard Linklater, 2014)
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN (Alfonso Cuaron, 2002)
THE DEATH OF STALIN (Armando Iannucci, 2018)
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (Werner Herzog, 2011)
TOUCHING THE VOID (Kevin Macdonald, 2004)
45 YEARS (Andrew Haigh, 2015)
FRANCES HA (Noah Baumbach, 2013)
BUCK (Cindy Meehl, 2011)
PHOENIX (Christian Petzold, 2014)
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)

The Kid with a Bike

Yes We Cannes! – A selection of 15 IFC Films releases that have won major prizes at the Cannes Film Festival  

 Palme d’or (Best Film) winners:
I, DANIEL BLAKE (Ken Loach, 2016)
DHEEPAN (Jacques Audiard, 2015)
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)
4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)

Camera d’or (Best First Film) winners:
HUNGER (Steve McQueen, 2008)

Grand Prix (Second place award) winners:
GOMORRAH (Matteo Garrone, 2008)
THE KID WITH A BIKE (Dardennes Brothers, 2011)

Jury Prize:
FISH TANK (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON (Hirokazu Kore-Eda, 2013)

Best Director:
PERSONAL SHOPPER (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

Best Actress – Charlotte Gainsbourg:
ANTICHRIST (Lars von Trier, 2009)

Best Actress – Juliette Binoche:
CERTIFIED COPY (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)

Best Actor – Benicio Del Toro:
CHE (Steven Soderbergh, 2008)

Cold in July

Cult Icons  – What makes a cult icon? Only the audience can decide. Explore 10 cult hits from IFC Films.

THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (André Øvredal, 2016)
THE BABADOOK (Jennifer Kent, 2014)
COLD IN JULY (Jim Mickle, 2014)
DEPRAVED (Larry Fessenden, 2019)
FOLLOWING (Christopher Nolan, 1998)
THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT (Lars Von Trier, 2018)
KILL LIST (Ben Wheatley, 2011)
SIGHTSEERS (Ben Wheatley, 2012)
VALHALLA RISING (Nicholas Winding-Refn, 2009)
WITCHING AND BITCHING (Alex De La Iglesia, 2013)

ABOUT IFC FILMSEstablished in 2000 and based in New York City, IFC Films is a leading U.S. distributor of independent film. Its unique distribution model makes independent films available to a national audience by releasing them in theaters as well as on cable’s Video On Demand (VOD) and digital platforms. Upcoming releases include THE TRUTH directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu and Shannon Murphy’s BABYTEETH. Some of the company’s successes over the years have included BOYHOOD, THE DEATH OF STALIN, FRANCES HA, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, THE BABADOOK, TOUCHING THE VOID, 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, CHE, SUMMER HOURS, ANTICHRIST, IN THE LOOP, JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK, TINY FURNITURE, and CARLOS. IFC Films has worked with established and breakout filmmakers, including Steven Soderbergh, Gus Van Sant, Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Miranda July, Lars Von Trier, Gaspar Noé, Todd Solondz, Cristian Mungiu, Susanne Bier, Olivier Assayas, Jim McKay, Larry Fessenden, Paul Dano, Gregg Araki, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol, Abdellatif Kechiche, Kore-eda Hirokazu, Abbas Kiarostami, Alfonso Cuaron, Noah Baumbach, Lena Dunham, Ethan Hawke and many more. IFC Films is a sister label to IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.