No one alive knows exactly what happened when Elvis Presley met Richard Nixon in 1970, in the Oval Office. Their photo is the most requested shot from the National Archives, and Liza Johnson decided to turn the event into Elvis & Nixon. Although the story centers on the President and the King—starting out in the Oval Office before jumping back 36 hours to Graceland—Elvis’s longtime friend (Alex Pettyfer) has a significant subplot: He’s torn between a life in Elvis’s entourage and a life of his own, in Hollywood, with a potential wife (Sky Ferreira). Otherwise, Elvis & Nixon plots Elvis’s trip to the US capital. According to the movie, the rock-n-roller, upset by the pervasiveness of the counterculture, sojourned to Washington, D.C., in hopes of getting an honorary title as “Federal Agent At Large.” If this sounds like a lark, it’s because it is. Foregoing the expected nose prosthetic, Kevin Spacey plays Richard Nixon without the Shakespearean self-seriousness of Frank Underwood. With a wig, Michael Shannon plays Elvis with comic seriousness, not so much impersonating the entertainer as interpreting his mien. The movie’s pace is jaunty, its tone light, fit for the unusualness of the situation.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White