There is no transcript of the meeting – the only evidence it took place, apart from a letter written by Presley to Nixon proposing the idea – is a single photo of the unlikely pair clasping hands in the Oval Office. It is the most requested photo from the United States National Archives.
Though it describes itself as “the untold true story”, Elvis & Nixon is complete conjecture – thanks to a healthy dose of artistic liberty, writers Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes have created a laugh-out-loud funny, but completely believable, account of one of the most curious episodes in American history.
With their distinctive mannerisms and appearances, Presley and Nixon have proven ripe for caricature over the last few decades – one as an enduring symbol of sex, youth and rock and roll, the other of political duplicity – but because there’s so much to sink their teeth into, the risk is the actor will over-indulge. Lucky then that we have actors of Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey’s calibre in the titular roles.
Lip curled, Shannon swaggers into every room hips first, the magnetism of the King of Rock and Roll writ large on screen – the excitement of those he encounters is palpable – while, fresh from playing the Machiavellian Frank Underwood in House of Cards, Spacey’s Nixon falls just on the right side of parody. Elsewhere, Alex Pettyfer turns in a warm and understated performance as Elvis’ longstanding friend and associate Jerry, an ordinary man swept up in the maelstrom of celebrity ego and politics who just wants to get back to meet his girlfriend’s parents.
In this relationship the film finds heart – in two starkly candid moments Elvis reveals the effect that absolute fame can have on the person buried deep beneath the hair and sunglasses.
Though it’s perhaps a little too pantomime at times, the frenetic pace, irreverent script and sparkling interplay between the leads make Elvis & Nixon a richly entertaining study of two powerful men with more in common than you might think.
|What||Elvis & Nixon film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
24 Jun 16 – 26 Aug 16, Event times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to visit the film's IMDB page|