Eye For Film >> Movies >> Elvis & Nixon (2016) Film Review
Elvis & Nixon
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Celebrity reaches a certain level when any stupid story sticks. If you are The King, you have two choices, hole up or play along. Elvis did both.
His meeting with Richard Nixon seemed at the time either a publicity stunt, or a dare - "How big are you, boss?" "I can get into the White House" "Prove it" "You questionin' ma authority, boy?"
This is a movie based on speculation, heresay and an Oval Office diary entry. Unlike Frost/Nixon, which dealt with a political revelation of some import, Elvis & Nixon is dangerously thin on purpose.
In a moment of boredom - there must have been many - between gigs, Elvis writes a letter to Mr President asking for an audience. Apart from honouring the GOP and its austere leader he wants to be made a Federal Agent At Large, which in Alice-In-Wonderland speak means the power to arrest drug fuelled rock'n'rollers and haul them off to rehab, or maybe not the kids, maybe those pusher dudes.
Nixon goes with it as much to annoy his square-as-a-box associates as anything else.
"I'll see him during my nap time," he orders.
Elvis arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ("Reminds me of my Graceland") with a couple of mates, tooled up with an assortment of automatic weapons, being an obsessive collector of firearms. Naturally these are taken off him before the "historic" meeting at which he talks like a Southern soothsayer and leaves with his accreditation as a Federal agent.
If there are two things you know about Elvis they are his exquisite manners and his sense of humour. In the film he cracks one joke and behaves with an arrogance that looks and feels all wrong. Also, Michael Shannon, who plays him, is too old.
Kevin Spacey, on the other hand, has Tricky Dicky to a T. It is not a big role as the scriptwriters centre around The King, but is perfectly formed, reminding anyone who needs to know that his acting prowess, discovered as the disabled con artist in The Usual Suspects all those years ago, was not exaggerated. He gives a master class in impersonation. Pity he is surrounded by such sound and puerility.Reviewed on: 13 Jun 2016
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