Film Review: ‘Elvis & Nixon’ is a True Story That’s Fit for a King

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – “When two great saints meet, it’s a humbling experience,” said Paul McCartney of John and Yoko. Well that also applies to “Elvis & Nixon.” Their meeting, albeit brief, has layers of meaning for our times – and their time – and the movie with the “E&N” title exposes that meaning with humor and grace. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Elvis Presley, nicknamed the “King of Rock ‘n Roll,” had prodigious fame and an appetite to match. Richard Milhous Nixon, President of the United States by default because all of his opponents were either killed or marginalized by the Vietnam War, was a tic-filled paranoid with little regard for his constituency beyond power. They met because Elvis wanted an honorary title, and Nixon – through his aides – wanted legitimacy in the “youth vote.” In the realm of the film, they gave each other something, but not exactly what they expected. All the ambiguities and underlying symbols are brilliantly played out in the essential “Elvis and Nixon.”

Elvis Aron Presley (Michael Shannon) is upset. He sees a United States in 1970 that is devastated by war, protest, the hippie movement and the ever-present communist threat. He broke into the national consciousness fifteen years earlier, with a singing voice and demeanor that captivated millions. As an army veteran, he sides with law enforcement, collecting a number of honorary badges. But he doesn’t have one…a federal government badge.

He gathers part of his “Memphis Mafia” – his posse from Graceland – including Jerry (Alex Pettyfer) and Sonny (Johnny Knoxville), and they accompany him when he solicits President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey) to procure his honorary badge. Nixon’s aide Egil Krogh (Colin Hanks) convinces POTUS to take the meeting – he needs more credibility for the youth vote – and the two great saints meet in the Oval Office, and take a memorable photo together.

“Elvis and Nixon” had a nationwide release on April 22nd. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Colin Hanks and Tate Donovan. Written by Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes. Directed by Liza Johnson. Rated “R”

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Kevin Spacey, Michael Shannon
History is Made with Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon in ‘Elvis & Nixon’
Photo credit: Bleecker Street Media

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Elvis & Nixon”

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