Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Elvis & Nixon (4 Stars)

In December 1970 Elvis Presley requested to visit President Nixon in the White House. Very little is known about the visit, except that Elvis, a collector of police badges, wanted a badge of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The conversation between Elvis and the President was held in private in the Oval Office. The details of the conversation have never been made public. All that remains is a photo taken before they parted. The film portrays the meeting between the two famous men and carefully treads the line between truth and fiction. None of what is said can be guaranteed to really have been spoken, but nothing can be disproved either. It's not true, but it could be true.

The film starts off slowly, maybe too slowly. The character development doesn't really succeed when we see the two men separately, preparing for the visit. We don't get to know them until they're in the room together. That's when the sparks fly, when we see their personalities bouncing off one another. Nixon expects to meet a rebellious rock'n'roll star, but the man he meets is different. Elvis is conservative and pro-American to the core. He hates drugs, he hates hippies and he voices his support for the "war in South-East Asia".

There's a war of egos going on before the two men can settle down and open up to one another. Nixon tries to impress Elvis with the size of his house and the gifts he's received, but Elvis calmly says that everything he has is the same or better. Nixon might be the President, but Elvis is the King.

The film has a subtle comedy element to it. It's not just the clash of two worlds. It's the portrayal of Elvis' child-like naivety. He asks to be made an undercover agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs so he can help combat drug abuse and anti-Americanism. He says he can infiltrate the Grateful Dead and the Black Panthers.

"Elvis & Nixon" is a film that might not be for everyone, but it has a charm that will entrance all fans of good cinema. Please check the film out, and leave comments with your feelings.

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