Oliver Stone's latest feature is the last one standing in the long line of
biographies of American presidents. It's a three-hour long saga about the life
of one of the most hated and misunderstood leaders of the 20th century.
Stone doesn't hold back anything as he digs deep inside politics and legal
maneuvers of the White House. The director holds Nixon responsible for
everything he has done. At the same time he creates a very human character, a
brilliant and tortured man that is caught in the dirty game of politics, which
is here pictured as a wild animal. He is simply trying to tame it. But the
occasional switch to the raging sky and the clouds swiftly fleeing over the
White House as events run ahead of the president's ability to control them.
Stone doesn't in any way apologize for Nixon. He blames not only Nixon's own
character flaws but also the Imperial Presidency itself, the system that, once
set in motion, behaves with a mindlessness of its own.
"Nixon" is a modern Shakespeare story - a saga about a ruler destroyed by his
fatal flaws. There's something almost majestic about the process: As Nixon goes
down in this film, there is no gloating, but a watery sigh, as of a great ship
Sir Anthony Hopkins is staggering and plays Nixon with incredible honesty and
understanding, creating a very emotional picture of the 37th American President.
Joan Allen's magnificent and captivating performance is certainly worth an Oscar
statuette. She is strong and loyal as Mrs. Nixon. The rest of the cast is
equally magnificent, including: James Woods, J. T. Walsh, Paul Sorvino, Ed
Harris and Bob Hoskins. Everyone does a serious and demanding job, no one are
Stone never loses focus and his direction is steddy, honest and determined. He
is displaying the historical facts and at the same time concentrating at the
human element. At times he is showing to black and white showing flashbacks from
Nixon's youth and childhood. The flashy editing by Brian Berdan and Frank
Corwin, Robert Richardson's rich cinematography and John Williams' musical score
create a hectic and bizarre atmosphere.
The film's only fault is that it's a bit tiering and overloaded with too much
political material and legal maneuvers. Still it's an honest and captivating - a
solid piece of movie making.