Elvis & Nixon, film review: ‘Kevin Spacey is a perfect Richard Nixon’

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 June 2016

Michael Shannon (left) stars as Elvis Presley and Kevin Spacey (right) stars as President Richard Nixon in Liza Johnson's ELVIS & NIXON. Picture: Steve Dietl

Michael Shannon (left) stars as Elvis Presley and Kevin Spacey (right) stars as President Richard Nixon in Liza Johnson's ELVIS & NIXON. Picture: Steve Dietl

2016 Bleecker Street

The meeting between the King and The Chief has a mythic air to it – perhaps because it happened in 1970 before Tricky Dicky got into taping every event that happened in the White House,

If it wasn’t for the photo of the pair of them shaking hands, it might have passed into urban legend.

The King Of Rock‘n’Roll volunteering to help wage the war on drugs has always been taken as a deeply significant moment in pop culture history, but nobody’s quite sure what it signified.

This film doesn’t take any great stand, preferring to spin slight, but amusing, entertainment out of it, based on the version told by Elvis’s close friend Jerry Schilling (a very engaging turn by Pettyfer).

The film’s great strength is its performances: Hanks and Peters make something memorable of Nixon’s aides, while Spacey is a perfect Nixon.

I think, though, we have to take issue with Shannon as Elvis.

At one point a character observes that, “he is taller than I thought he’d be,” which he certainly is, but also somewhat thinner and more gaunt.

When an Elvis impersonator doesn’t recognise him and comes up to congratulate him on the costume, you can’t blame him – he’s like a man in a Halloween costume, a Beetlejuice Elvis.

You look at him and think, this ain’t no template for Nicolas Cage’s whole career.

But it works for the characterisation, for he is meant to be a haunted man, a man trapped in his own persona.

Johnson’s movie makes the point a little too bluntly, but there is a touching scene where his reflection in the mirror talks to Schilling about how nobody sees him when he walks in the room any more; they just see their memories of him.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

January is well underway but it’s not too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Yesterday, 19:13

Hendon’s Amaranta Chavez has dreams of becoming a world-class rhythmic gymnast and a Just Giving campaign has been created to help her in that quest.

Yesterday, 18:58

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has called for the dismissal of Inner North London’s senior coroner Mary Hassell after a “deeply disappointing” meeting with community leaders to discuss her refusal to respect Jewish burial requirements.

Yesterday, 18:56

Andrew Dismore AM, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, has added his voice to the calls for the resignation of Inner North London coroner Mary Hassell.

Yesterday, 17:30

Sarries know a win is a must on Saturday if they are to progress to quarter-finals

Yesterday, 17:00

Dinny Hall has designed women’s jewellery for more than 30 years. Described as a ‘little British Tiffany’, she lives in West Hampstead.

Yesterday, 16:19

2017 saw a number of changes made to regulations governing the private rented sector and a record number of government consultations held in relation to letting in the UK, meaning there is plenty for landlords to consider and act upon in the new year.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now