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Customer Review

84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and engrossing, November 8, 2004
This review is from: Nixon - Collector's Edition (DVD)
When Anthony Hopkins was cast as Richard Nixon in Oliver Stone's bio of the 37th President, many were leery of the casting choice. I myself pictured Hopkins doing a combination of Nixon and Hannibal Lecter: "I'm not a crook -- and if anyone thinks so, I'll eat their liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti .... SLURP!!" However, Hopkins does do a marvelous job and disappears into the role without becoming a standup comedian's caricature. Even though Nixon does and says vile things throughout the film, the audience still has sympathy for the character -- even those like me who found the real Richard Nixon dispicable.

Stone portrays Nixon as a tragic figure who had the intelligence and the electoral mandate to elevate himself and his administration to greatness, but let it all slip away by becoming bogged down in the quagmire of Watergate. Nixon complains incessantly about how the Kennedys are everything he is not. However, it becomes clear that his hatred of the Kennedys is based as much on his loathing of himself as on any real scorn shown him by the "Eastern establishment."

Stone, as in JFK, takes certain liberties with Nixon's story and acknowledges as much in a disclaimer before the story begins. Even those who believe President Kennedy was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy, for example, would find it hard to believe that Richard Nixon was involved, even tacitly, in the plot to kill JFK. Stone also takes liberties with his portrayal of Richard and Pat Nixon's marital relationship. Even though some incidents are no doubt true, it's pretty clear that some scenes between the two are conjecture on Stone's part.

However, these are minor quibbles. Nixon is a penetrating, engrossing biography that both portrays him as a ruthless, vicous, paranoic lunatic and a character who elicits sympathy from the audience. The supporting cast is amazing and includes James Woods, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Harris, David Hyde Pierce, Annabeth Gish, Kevin Dunn, J.T. Walsh, Powers Booth, Paul Sorvino, Edward Herrmann, Larry Hagman, Dan Hedeya, Tony LoBianco, Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, David Paymer, Tony Goldwyn, Fuyvush Finkel and Saul Rubinek. However, the standout supporting player is Joan Allen as Pat Nixon who is a dead ringer for the former First Lady. Allen's portrayal shows the emotional pain Mrs. Nixon endured behind the seemingly placid facade she presented to the American public. Coupled with Hopkins' Nixon, it's an acting tour de force that carries the film.

After all the vile things he does during the course of the film, Nixon, the night before his resignation, is reduced to staring at a portrait of his idolized archenemy John F. Kennedy and proclaiming that "... when they look at you, they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they are." Even the most die-hard member of Nixon's enemies' list can't help but feel pity for Richard Nixon during this scene. It's a great achievement by Oliver Stone to make this bitter, corrupt and wretched man worthy of the audience's sympathy at the same time we disdain him.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 26, 2014 3:40:09 PM PDT
Mahlers13th says:
I loved the line about " I am not a crook..." And Hannibal Lechter. I suspect that's all I'll be able to think about now when I watch it.

Thanks for the great review.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2016 2:07:40 PM PST
Thank you!
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Location: San Mateo, California United States

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