There are many ways that a film can be pitched. It could be a good script, a unique setting, but one way that you can sell a film is with just one scene. Elvis & Nixon has that scene is positively worth the price of entry.
The film focuses on our title characters Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon meeting in the White House to talk national security, the communist threat and of course karate moves. Elvis (played by Michael Shannon) wants to become a Federal Agent at large at seeks to get permission from Nixon (played by Kevin Spacey) in order to protect the youth the dangers such as drugs and brain-washing.
The film is very successful in taking the initial idea of having these too prolific men meet and interact with each other in humorous fashion but not going too far and entering absurdity. Shannon and Spacey manage to make you believe that they are indeed these iconic individuals talking to each other, that if there were a transcript of conversation at the time you could believe this is actually what happened. The realism is supported by the tone throughout the film by not taking itself too seriously, almost like you’re laughing with these characters rather than laughing at them.
When the film does want you to take something seriously is normally when it’s for character development for Elvis. He reflects on his image as an entertainer and even about how he feels about being successful not entirely negative, but a sense of sadness lies beneath the surface and hinting at a darker side of being in the spotlight. This could be argued as having a negative impact on the tone of the film but I’d say it strengthens the relatability to the characters and humanizes them. Regardless of political beliefs the film is treating these characters as people and just having fun with what they can do to get The King of Rock & Roll charm the hell out of the most powerful man in the United States of America.
The film flows very well making you wish there was just a bit more to see like an extra scene of character development or heck even more stuff in the white house would’ve been pushed the film to an even better standing. If you’re a fan of these actors involved and taking a event in history and see how creative and engaging you can get with it, then I’d highly recommend this film.
Dir: Liza Johnson
Scr: Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal, Cary Elwes
Cast: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters
Prd: Cary Elwes, Cassian Elwes, Holly Wiersma
DOP: Terry Stacey
Music: Ed Shearmur
Runtime: 86 mins
Elvis & Nixon is out on DVD and On-demand on the 31st October