Elvis And Nixon

Elvis Presley has always been a mystery to me. I never understood the fascination around him and the length at which his fans adore him. Growing up in the south, his image and legend permeated throughout the culture and made it impossible to criticize him or his music. He was infallible. Nixon, on the other hand, is universally loathed for having a Presidential administration built on division and corruption. Through one bold idea, on the part of Presley, they cross paths. Elvis and Nixon, sounds as though it would be perfect for an 80s sitcom, however, the reality of this interaction is put on display through this film. In total, the film is fun in that it gives a bit of insight as to what their interaction may have been like, given their personalities and styles, however, there is a lack of depth with anyone in the film. Michael Shannon’s (Midnight Special, Man of Steel) portrayal of Elvis comes off as wooden and lacking any personality.

I felt as though I was watching an impersonator on screen rather an actor portraying a character. Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) plays a strong Nixon in which you feel a little bit of sympathy for the President considering the circumstances that he finds himself in toward the end of his first term. Unfortunately, due to his character Frank Underwood on House of Cards, audiences will feel as though it is President Underwood playing Nixon. There isn’t much space between the two characters that he plays. There also isn’t much space between Elvis and Nixon with their approach to social ills and the American landscape.

There is very little this film offers other than an imagining of what possibly took place due to now recordings of their meeting other than a photo. In that sense, it is an interesting “what if” piece. The imagination of the filmmakers allows us to question who these two men and the circumstances that faced America during 1971. Although provocative in its approach, it doesn’t allow for much growth or ability to connect with any of the characters. It has its fun and funny moments, which will keep audiences interested, but nothing that will have them talking about the film well after they have seen it. Through the portrayals by Shannon and Spacey, I find myself liking Nixon a little more and hating Elvis a little less.