May have been eclipsed by her larger-than-life rockstar husband, but here, she is very much the star of her own story. Priscilla is told entirely from Priscilla’s perspective, and a worthy addition to Coppola’s filmography.
The inner lives of women (girls, really) who are often dismissed because they attract powerful men, and are swaddled in privilege. Seen through Coppola’s distinctive gaze, these women become more than the mythology that surrounds them.
Coppola wanted Priscilla to be played by an actor who would be able to convincingly act a range of ages, growing up with the character over the course of the film. Spaeny is a revelation, credibly evolving as Priscilla grows into a troubled womanhood.
In the first act of the film, Spaeny embodies Priscilla’s bright-eyed naivete, childlike idealism and teenage rebellion. She simpers and fawns over Elvis, greedy for every drop of his attention.
Coppola uses the waxing and waning of sexual desire in Priscilla’s relationship to show her coming into her own as a woman. The couple spend a great deal of time in their bedroom
There are no grand declarations or promises, no conventionally satisfying pay-off. But the film’s triumph lies in this tranquil tenderness.