Elvis & Nixon is directed by Liza Johnson. The only other film I have seen by her is Hateship Loveship which I was not a fan of. I would have seen this particular movie regardless of who directed it based on the cast. I give this movie the rating: Not Quite Golden, ponyboy!
What is Elvis & Nixon?
This movie is based on the true and (previously) untold story of Elvis showing up unannounced at the White House one December morning in 1970. He is hoping to hand deliver a letter to President Nixon. Elvis wants to become a federal agent at large. He believes hippies and communists are ruining America with drugs. He believes he can help bring down the groups. I laughed far more than expected but there was a nice balance of emotions.
Kevin Spacey stars as President Nixon. Michael Shannon (gasp!) stars as Elvis, or Mr. Presley as he prefers to be called. Colin Hanks and Evan Peters are both part of Nixon’s staff. Johnny Knoxville plays one of Elvis’ friends/associates.
There were quite a few instances that the cast and crew could have gone overboard. I was glad they kept it scaled back. I was glad extra energy was not spent on making the actors look and sound exactly like the people they were portraying and instead their skillful acting was the focus.
I enjoyed the poignant moments exchanged between Presley and his good friend Jerry (acted by Alex Pettyfer). It is clear that they go way back and that Jerry is one of the few people Elvis trusts.
We see many sides of Elvis: the outwardly confident showman, the lonely and isolated man that feels he must buy the affection of those he cares about, as well as the paranoid and sometimes volatile individual. At one point, Elvis refuses to take a photo with the president out of fear that it would blow his cover as an agent. Elvis finally obliges and this results in the most requested photo in the National Archive.
I suggest checking this movie out in theaters if possible. It has such a limited release and I only heard of it a month or so before it was released. I will definitely watch it again but I do not think it is one I need to own.