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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at West Chester chapter.

A24 filmography is undeniably not for everyone, but its latest feature Priscilla, directed by Sofia Coppola, is a must-watch this fall. 

The biographical drama yields a sense of femininity that was stolen and regained as shown through the one hour and fifty-minute runtime. While the adaptation is unique to Priscilla’s life – based on her 1985 memoir Elvis and Me – the content and experiences shared throughout are relatable to viewers who have experienced similar behaviors or relationships.

Priscilla guides audiences through the whirlwind, raw reality of the idolized Presley couple as through Priscilla’s eyes. There is no sugarcoating this time around, so make sure to not anticipate a part two of Elvis (2022). There is no correlation between these films other than its characters. Juxtaposing Baz Lurhmann’s flashy, flamboyant theatrics in his filmography, Sofia Coppola prioritizes the eye and the mind over the ear. In both Priscilla and Coppola’s past works, the director narrows in on concepts of inner-emotion and personal struggles, evoking senses of isolation and sensibility. 

When Elvis is away for periods of time, shooting films or performing (especially at his Vegas residency), the audience is hauled through the screen, feeling the heavy stillness and silence that came with Priscilla’s daily isolation. It is especially noticeable considering when her love returns, Graceland is back to buzzing with banter and life in every room by the Memphis crowd that hung around Elvis.

But before Priscilla physically experienced the one-sided loneliness of her relationship at Graceland, she first waited for Elvis in Germany while living with her parents. The stylistic choices during this timeline are so very Coppola in vintage aesthetics. The passage of time is indicated through flipping calendar pages while seasonal decor shifts through the months. The material imagery acts as a window into the teenage mind of Priscilla, who relied on her silent landline and love letters from cross-country. 

Actress Cailee Spaeny’s Priscilla evolution from young teenager all the way through adulthood is masterfully done through meticulous makeup and wardrobe. We witness her completely transformed, ranging from sophisticated ‘60s schoolgirl into someone, over time, that Elvis selfishly molds into a personal accessory. He handpicks her clothing and speaks unsolicited thoughts on anything she’d chosen for herself. Notably, Elvis criticized patterned-fashion and urged solids. 

Actress Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley

Many women around the world, including myself, have admired Priscilla’s hive hairstyle and stunning looks captured by paparazzi over the decades, immediately associating her with her voluminous jet black hair. 

I had known from photographs that Priscilla looked different prior to her relationship, but I had not known how these differences in her physical appearance came to be. One of my most uncomfortable moments was witnessing the scene in which her hair is dyed and redone for the first time. In the same timeline, Elvis encourages heavy eyeliner to “better” emphasize her eyes. Priscilla’s new hair coupled with a muted fashion sense were both Elvis’ doing to mold the teenager into resembling him. 

Still, with such wide variety in decade-oriented fashion, the costume design decisions were some of the best I have ever seen on-screen… and I’m not even an avid movie-watcher (despite having a Letterboxd, when I used to be). 

Despite Spaeny and Jacob Elordi being the same age, their foot height difference is a strategic casting call – specifically when it came to the relationship’s age-difference. Spaeny stands at 5 ‘1 while Elordi towers at 6 ‘5, and as anyone even slightly familiar with the Presley’s know, Priscilla was a high school freshman when she met a 24-year-old Elvis. Still, Spaeny puts on a completely believable transformation of teenager to a young woman. 

The film score along with Coppola’s personally-selected soundtrack was stellar, as well. Music has that effect of bringing you back to a time and place, and Priscilla’s soundtrack does exactly that. On Saturday, Sofia Coppola posted on Instagram that the extended version of the Priscilla soundtrack was now available. 

Regardless of my praise for Coppola’s directorial choices, I still hold a little criticism for Priscilla.

It’s an important yet heavy watch, and I valued my theater experience. It was one of those moments where you leave feeling like you exist in another universe separate from the one you walked in with. I felt confused with the finale, and I’m not sure if its execution was the original idea in mind. It felt like a rushed sequence regardless of its accurate chronological ending. I would’ve liked to see more of Priscilla’s new life following the divorce, however the memoir and film adaptation were designed to authentically shed light on the story of the couple’s relationship. People will wonder why her story is a significant one to tell, and it is because her story is the silenced version that is disguised by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s long standing legacy.

Priscilla’s new-found freedom displayed in the film’s final minutes is one that induces a sense of surreality. 

Without sharing too much detail, that scene paired with Dolly Parton’s vocals left me both heartbroken and relieved, to see for myself – how in that world and this one – a future was, and is, in fact possible. 

Even when it feels like a life ahead of all you’ve known for years is not attainable, Priscilla will prove to you that you can master it on your own – and definitely without anyone’s help. 

For me, the relatability of Presley’s story is a testament to womanhood, a prime example of a young woman gaining her autonomy back. 

The final moments of the film reveal her natural hair color, no heavy eye-makeup, and a wardrobe shifted to jeans and in-style patterns in place of dress wear. Finding yourself again is no easy feat, but it will happen when you allow yourself time and patience to make it happen.

Angelina Stambouli

West Chester '26

Angelina is a sophomore Communications Major and Journalism Minor. Previously, she was a writer, associate editor, and Pinterest Director for Her Campus at Gettysburg. Outside of Her Campus, she serves as Vice President of College Democrats, a Copy Editor for The Quad, and volunteers with Hands Helping Paws!