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Priscilla review - Bluebeard suede shoes | reviews, news & interviews

Priscilla review - Bluebeard suede shoes

Priscilla review - Bluebeard suede shoes

Sofia Coppola on whatever happened to the teenage dream

Tying the knot: Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny

Sofia Coppola knows a thing or two about teenage girldom. Like many of her other characters – in The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Somewhere and Marie Antoinette – the subject of her latest film, Priscilla Presley, is an ingenue living in a gilded cage and surrounded by lavish boredom. It hardly matters whether the setting is actually the Park Hyatt Tokyo, Chateau Marmont, the Palace of Versailles – or Graceland, in this case.

The song remains the same. Written and directed by Coppola, Priscilla is a tortuous journey into the dark heart of celebrity. Yet the well-known story follows an unexpected arc. It’s a quiet film about rock‘n’roll, a grown-up film about the teenybop dream. So what if your boyfriend happens to be the most famous (and sexiest) person on the planet? You’ve still got to finish your homework.

Coppola’s movie is superficial in the best sense. It eschews profundity in favour of surfaces. There is no subtext, really. In fact, right from the opening sequence, the film glamourises textures: a manicured foot sinks into the shag pile, red varnish is dexterously applied to a fingernail, black liner paints a cat eye, big hair is coiffed into a bouffant silhouette. As teenage fantasies go, life in Graceland consists of make-up as much as make-believe.

The story begins in 1959 at a US Army base in Bad Nauheim, West Germany. Sitting at the counter of a diner, the baby-faced 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) is revising for a school test when a soldier asks her if she likes Elvis Presley. “Of course, who doesn’t?” she replies, full of poise, but even so the question is a little creepy.

Her step-father, also in uniform, lets the creepy soldier take her to a party at Elvis’s house. The King is off-duty, in a cardigan, and kind of shy, but we don’t hear much about his military service in Germany or indeed about the legendary pop career it briefly interrupted. As played by Jacob Elordi, he is larger than life and also somehow insubstantial. Their strange romance is viewed exclusively through Priscilla’s eyes.

It’s obviously a Cinderella story but without the fairytale ending. Swept off her feet and transported to Memphis, where the lap of luxury is at first enchanting, it doesn’t take long for disenchantment to set in, or for Priscilla to realise that Prince Charming is actually just another controlling male – and Graceland a kind of Bluebeard’s Castle.

It’s obviously a Cinderella story but without the fairytale ending

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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