Elvis & Nixon

 

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The king of rock 'n' roll and the president of the United States get together for a chat.

 

Elvis & Nixon

Tricky Dickie indulges the King: Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon

 

Liza Johnson’s engaging film takes place in 1970 when Elvis Presley decides to visit President Richard Nixon and get his permission to become a secret federal agent. One December morning Elvis leaves Graceland for the airport, gets on a plane for Washington D.C. and heads for the White House...

 

Three writers are credited here, including the British actor Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride and Saw fame (and brother of the film’s producer, Cassian Elwes). Their witty script provides Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey with roles to die for and it is a real joy watching these two actors at the top of their game. The film is also perfectly pitched and imaginatively directed. Liza Johnson has wisely encouraged her versatile actors to deliver nuanced performances rather than fall into the trap of mimicry – and it works a treat. One of the best and funniest scenes is when Michael Shannon’s Elvis is approached by two lookalikes at the airport. They bear an uncanny resemblance to the King and highlights the fact that often fans can look much more realistic than their idols.

 

The supporting cast is strong, too – Alex Pettyfer delivers a really good performance as Jerry Schilling, Elvis’ close friend and confidante, who accompanies him to the White House. Schilling is deeply loyal to Elvis but this time is much more preoccupied with returning home, so that he can meet and have dinner with his future parents-in-law. Colin Hanks and Evan Peters are also fine as Nixon’s uptight advisors. In all, this is an entertaining film about an iconic meeting told with both wit and grace.

 

GEORGE SAVVIDES

 

Cast: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, Tate Donovan, Hanala Sagal, Sky Ferreira, Tracy Letts, Ashley Benson, Poppy Delevingne, Joey Sagal.

 

Dir Liza Johnson, Pro Holly Wiersma and Cassian Elwes, Screenplay Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes, Ph Terry Stacey, Pro Des Mara LePere-Schloop, Ed Michael Taylor, Music Edward Shearmur, Costumes Peggy Schnitzer.

 

Jellyfish Bloom/Autumn Productions Inc./Elevated Films/Holly Wiersma Productions/Johnny Mac and David Hansen Productions/Benaroya Pictures-Entertainment One.

85 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 24 June 2016. Cert. 15.