Sofia Coppola makes a roaring return to the film scene with her latest biopic: Priscilla. Released in the final moments of 2023, this biographical drama observes Priscilla Presley (Cailee Spaeny) as she meets, falls in love with, and follows Elvis (Jacob Elordi) into the American dream.

My main fear before viewing this film was the narrative. It is all-too-easy for films like this that focus on lesser-known characters to slip into a tale about the life of the historic Hollywood superstar they accompany, just told through their eyes instead of the star’s. However, Coppola handles Priscilla’s life with dignity and the story focuses on her – Elvis hardly appears in scenes without Priscilla, and when he leaves her alone the audience is left with her too.

I felt assured of Coppola’s intentions during the opening credits, which features a montage of Priscilla getting ready for another day in Graceland. The shots focus on each of her features as she applies makeup, puts on her heels and walks out across the plush carpet. It feels like an ode to girlhood, or womanhood, in a similar way to the Barbie film. Yes, Priscilla is immensely beautiful, and has had this immensely turbulent, immensely fabulous life that you are about to watch - but remember, she’s just a girl, doing her best like the rest of us.

The film was produced by Priscilla Presley herself, and one can feel her influence in the way that the relationship is portrayed. Yes, we see a 14-year-old Priscilla date a 24 year old Elvis, yes, we see his abusive dual nature, and yes, we see Elvis repeatedly abandon Priscilla, but it never feels like their relationship is condemned. As Presley maintains that she still does and always has loved Elvis, it is unsurprising that the relationship is presented almost neutrally, both bad and good parts are on display, and it is left up to the audience to make a decision about it.

A crucial part of the storytelling is done through the magnificent costuming. Priscilla begins very young, with mousy brown hair and wearing the characteristic large dresses of the 50’s. As she becomes more sucked into the glamourous thrills and lows of life with Elvis, she dyes her hair, wears heavier makeup, and tighter dresses. She appears outrageous and gaudy, a far cry from the person the audience first met. Then, as she begins to distance herself from him she goes back to her brown hair, but this time appears womanly, wearing trousers and driving and taking up her own interests like karate.

I was hugely impressed with Priscilla. Coppola’s feminist lens transforms the film and presents Priscilla’s story as it is: a woman who has to find herself within love, and the world of Hollywood glamour, and ultimately realises that she is better off on the outside of it all. It is a beautiful representation of a woman’s life in a world made for men, a beautiful continuation from the feminist takeover that Barbie began.