|legeros.com > Movie Hell > 1995 > Reviews|
The success of this long, laborious drama hinges on one thing: how well we believe Anthony Hopkins as President Richard Milhous Nixon. As it turns out, the Welsh actor is a mixed blessing for the film. Hopkins *interprets* Nixon, instead of impersonating him, and it's a performance that's both fascinating and distracting to watch. He captures the fiery gloom of a man who is (presented here as) obses- sed with death, dying, and loss. Physically, though, he's all wrong for the role. His accent waivers and his round face and stature too easily blends in with the other actors. And Nixon is not a man who should blend in. Hopkin's half-success could've worked in a film with a stronger momentum. NIXON drags, due in no small part to director Oliver Stone (NATURAL BORN KILLERS). His constant cutting between film stocks and time periods dilutes more than it enhances. Even his trademark blending of fact and fiction-- such as a gonzo scene supposing a link between Nixon, a herd of Texas fat cats (led by Larry Hagman, no less!), and the JFK assassination-- is less distracting than his presumption that the audience is already familiar with these events. NIXON is not a story that should be confusing. That said, there are pleasures to be had. Hopkins is great in, oh, about half of his scenes. And he gets to play off an array of incredible actors, including Joan Allen, James Woods, J.T. Walsh, Powers Boothe, and Paul Sorvino, whose Henry Kissinger looks a little too much like Dr. Strangelove to be completely comfortable with. Mein Fuhrer! Certainly more substantive than the bulk of last year's crop-- and a great antidote to the apple-pie patriotism of APOLLO 13-- NIXON still lacks the clarity and coherence of a great film. Stone has envisioned Richard Nixon as a tragic figure of Shakespearean proportions. Unfortunately, neither the film, nor the central casting, can realize that vision. (Rated "R"/195 min.) Grade: B- Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros
Originally posted to triangle.movies
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