The untold true story behind the meeting between Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n Roll, and President Richard Nixon, resulting in this revealing, yet humorous moment immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives.
Some films set out to create great art, some set out to be great entertainment and escapism, whereas others, like ‘Elvis & Nixon’ merely seek to be great fun and it certainly succeeds. Based on a real life meeting between the two cultural icons, ‘Elvis & Nixon’ is a sharp and witty comedy that imagines how the meeting between the two men may have gone. Nimbly directed by Liza Johnson with a cast on the right wavelength, this was a perfectly pleasant way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.
The premise is thin, and indeed it does take around an hour before the two men find themselves in the same room, but that doesn’t mean the film is boring. This is in large part due to the casting for the lead duo, with Michael Shannon (Elvis) and Kevin Spacey (Nixon) both on terrific form. Both men are such watchable presences at the best of times and it’s enjoyable to see them deliver their takes on the famous men at this particular point in time. Spacey shares a loose resemblance with Nixon and he plays him as the old fashioned grump before the corruption allegations destroyed his legacy, whereas Shannon has more nuance to play with as Elvis at a conflicted time in his life. We spend more time with Shannon’s Elvis as he sets off to Washington to seek a meeting with Richard Nixon to discuss his concerns about the ‘youth of today’, and Shannon fully embodies the character if not the appearance.
The writing is good throughout and you can imagine they had a lot of fun imagining what the encounter itself was like, and whilst it may not be true to life it’s certainly entertaining! The comic timing of the cast is perfect and the narrative is pretty funny throughout, perfectly encapsulating the reactions of the various characters to a scenario that is fairly surreal and bizarre. ‘Elvis & Nixon’ isn’t the kind of film that’s going to win awards, but it’s a lot of fun and its talented leading duo are never less than engaging in this humorous and well-made movie.
Directed By: Liza Johnson
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Michael Shannon, Alex Pettyfer, Colin Hanks, Johnny Knoxville, Evan Peters, Tate Donovan, Hanala Segal, Tracy Letts and Sky Ferreira