Review in Brief: Elvis & Nixon (2016)

ELVIS & NIXON is an intriguingly simple title and unfortunately, a pretty disappointing final product. In the depiction of this remarkable partly true, partly hypothetical series of real-world events, Kevin Spacey makes for a good Nixon. He’s slimy and calculating but because he’s such a gifted mimic he stops short of being a caricature. The same unfortunately cannot be said of Michael Shannon, who can do Elvis’ lackadaisical drawl, but physically could be replaced by any other actor in general film to be a more physically convincing King (Alex Petyfer playing Elvis’ confidant in particular looks noticeably more like Presley next to Shannon, which is unfortunate because they share most of their scenes). Shannon just about justifies his casting with the wounded way he plays a line about a stillborn brother, “They out him in a box”, but elsewhere he is disappointing. The whole thing is very TV movie: completely watchable, but nothing screaming must-see, nothing striking stylistically or even offering up all that many reasons to care full-stop. The central dialogue scene between two of the most influential men in the world is great, but that only makes up about fifteen minutes worth of the film and is not quite worth the wait. Would it be that much of an ask to make some of the side characters more interesting or to give the time period more socio-historical context and conflict? SSP

About Sam Sewell-Peterson

Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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