I have been an Elvis Presley fan since the day I was born, my admiration deeply rooted in the allure of his music and the mystique surrounding his life. One significant piece that fueled my fascination was “Elvis & Me,” Priscilla Presley’s memoir, which was previously adapted into a 1988 made-for-TV movie. When news of a new cinematic rendition, titled “Priscilla,” surfaced, my expectations were high, but sadly, they were met with a profound sense of disappointment.

The decision to reprise the tale of Elvis and Priscilla should have been reconsidered after the 1988 adaptation, a made-for-TV movie that, despite its limitations, at least managed to capture some essence of the story. In contrast, “Priscilla” was an outright misfire.

Approaching the film from the perspective of a former journalist, it becomes a challenge to find aspects to critique—simply because there was nothing commendable. To add to the dismay, the cinematic endeavor faced a substantial setback as Elvis Presley Enterprises forbade the use of any of the King’s actual music, a choice that severely hindered the film’s ability to authentically convey the narrative.

The central disappointment came in the form of Jacob Elrodi’s portrayal of the fictional Elvis—a rendition that ranks among the worst interpretations I’ve witnessed, extending back to Kurt Russell’s portrayal. Beyond the blatant height discrepancies between the main characters, Elrodi’s lack of resemblance to the iconic figure was glaring. Comparatively, a sock puppet might have presented a more convincing portrayal, especially given the lackluster material provided.

In the midst of this cinematic letdown, one shining beacon emerged—Cailee Spaeny’s performance as Priscilla. Her portrayal stood out as a commendable aspect of an otherwise lackluster film, showcasing an understanding of the character and delivering a performance that transcended the film’s limitations.

Director Sofia Coppola should have reconsidered the project’s scope the moment it became clear that Elvis’s music would not be part of the narrative. The absence of his iconic tunes, such as during the pivotal moment in Germany when Priscilla gifted him a music-playing jewelry box, significantly diluted the story’s impact and authenticity.

Moreover, the film’s abrupt conclusion as Priscilla left their house after filing for divorce felt like a narrative shortcut. If the film had been titled “Elvis and Me,” such a conclusion might have been palatable. However, Priscilla Presley’s life extends far beyond her time with Elvis, as eloquently detailed in her original book. The movie missed an opportunity to delve into the multifaceted aspects of Priscilla’s life, opting for a narrow focus that failed to do justice to her full story.

In retrospect, “Priscilla” stands as a cautionary tale of the pitfalls in attempting to retell an iconic love story without the essential elements that defined it. As a devoted Elvis fan, it pains me to see such a significant chapter in his life treated with such disregard for authenticity and depth.

Take three hours of your life and rewatch the 1988 made for TV movie – it’s on YouTube.