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 sinking.
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 disappointing.
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.