Tag Archives: Jacob Elordi

All You Ever Wanted


by George Wolf

Even if you’ve never taken the tour at Graceland, the bare feet on shag carpeting that Sofia Coppola uses to open Priscilla should serve as a proper metaphor for the biography to come.

Welcome to a world you could never imagine being a part of. Tread lightly.

Priscilla Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) was just a ninth grader when she met Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi) on the West German Air Force base where her stepfather was stationed. They eventually married in 1967, had daughter Lisa Marie, and divorced in 1973.

Like most stories about Elvis, this one is pretty familiar. But this point of view is not. That’s likely what interested Coppola, and she adapts Priscilla’s 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me” as a lush, compelling, and often heartbreaking portrait of the woman at the heart of a uniquely American love story.

As Priscilla enters Elvis’s world, she’s a stranger in a strange land, wide eyed and wondering what this older man wants from her. It’s a theme that calls to mind Coppola’s Lost in Translation, but this young girl is much more at the mercy of Elvis than Scarlett Johansson ever was to Bill Murray.

And Spaeny (On the Basis of Sex, Bad Times at the El Royale) gives a breakout performance that is utterly transfixing. With grace and ease, she is able to take Priscilla from the shy schoolgirl hiding a big secret behind her knowing smile, to a woman no longer willing to sacrifice her life to the whims of an icon.

Just last year, Baz Luhrmann used Colonel Tom Parker as a fresh window into the legend of the King. But as entertaining as it was, Luhrmann’s film suffered from its one-note treatment of Elvis, the man. For Coppola, this is an area of strength.

Here, he’s a gaslighting, manipulative ass with a God complex, Mommy issues and weird ideas about sex. And Elordi (Euphoria) embodies it all through a strong performance that captures the charisma and complexities without leaning toward comic impersonation (and with Elvis, that is not easy).

Coppola’s pace and construction are reliably assured and more easily identifiable than anything she’s done since The Beguiled. The production design and time stamp are both detailed and gorgeous, wrapped in a dreamlike haze that slowly fades when reality starts chipping away at Priscilla’s youthful naivete.

And if you’re expecting a hit parade of Elvis classics, you’ve forgotten whose story this is. Coppola’s soundtrack choices are on point, right down to the way she incorporates the few moments of recognizable Elvis hits that we do hear. We only see that side of Priscilla’s husband the way she saw it: as a mythical creature she couldn’t pry loose from the man that always promised he’d make more time for her.

Love Is a Battlefield

Deep Water

by George Wolf

Adrian Lyne hasn’t directed a movie in twenty years. It’s been twice that long since the 1957 source novel by Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley) has been adapted for the big screen.

They’re both back with a new vision for Deep Water, a sometimes frustrating erotic thriller that can never fully capitalize on all of its possibilities to be either erotic or thrilling.

Vic and Melinda Van Allen (Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas) are living a life of luxury in New Orleans with their young daughter Trixie (the incredibly cute Grace Jenkins). Vic developed a computer chip used for drone warfare, so his days of early retirement are mainly filled with watching Melinda openly flaunt her affairs at parties.

When one of Melinda’s past lovers turns up dead, Vic lets her latest boy toy (Brendan Miller) know that he’s the murderer. But Vic is only trying to scare the kid away, right? Neighbor Don (Tracy Letts with another standout supporting turn) is suspicious early on, and when another of Melinda’s lovers (Euphoria‘s Jacob Elordi) drowns at a pool party, plenty of others are looking at Vic as the prime suspect.

Screenwriters Zach Helm and Sam Levinson provide Lyne with undercurrents of subtext that are never fully explored. We assume Vic doesn’t want to subject Trixie or his finances to a messy divorce, but the deeper we dig, it’s clear this marital arrangement is feeding some need for both parties and fostering a concerning worldview for their child. Lyne showcases the aimless privilege of their daily lives to hint at a lesson on the rot of wealth, then pivots, often to Vic’s creepy but uneventful hobby of raising snails.

And though Lyne has made his name on the steamy sexual politics of 9 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful, there’s more smoke here than fire. And water, water everywhere.

You won’t notice grand chemistry between Affleck and de Armas, which is a credit to both. This is a marriage of psychological warfare, and it is Vic and Melinda’s contrasting plans of attack that keep us invested, especially in the early going. De Armas embodies the cruelly uninhibited as well as Affleck brings the condescending and calculated, which is a major reason the major twist to Highsmith’s original ending works as well as it does.

For these two, it feels right.

But only for a moment, because strangely, Lyne doesn’t let it linger. Instead, he quickly cuts from the credits to a performance from the adorable Jenkins singing along to a cheery pop ditty from the 1970s.

If it’s an attempt at chilling humor, it falls hard, becoming another anchor weighing down Deep Water just when it starts cruising.