A biographical story of former U.S. President Richard Nixon, from his days as a young boy, to his eventual Presidency, which ended in shame.A biographical story of former U.S. President Richard Nixon, from his days as a young boy, to his eventual Presidency, which ended in shame.A biographical story of former U.S. President Richard Nixon, from his days as a young boy, to his eventual Presidency, which ended in shame.
Nixon is seen as a troubled figure, insecure and paranoid, with few friends. An unhappy childhood, in which he refers to himself as his mother's "faithful dog," in fact does dog him his whole life, as he seeks to please a demanding ultra-religious mother (Mary Steenburgen)who had already died by the time he took office as President, but whose memory and expectations lived on. Nixon is burdened with an unhappy marriage to Pat (Joan Allen) - unhappy largely because of his own obsession with political success - and haunted by the ghost of John Kennedy, who defeated him for the presidency in 1960 and who Nixon could never live up to. Kennedy was loved; Nixon was hated - he could never get over that. A scene near the end of the movie demonstrates his feelings toward JFK as he looks at Kennedy's White House portrait: "They look at you and see what they want to be; they look at me and see who they are."
Although the movie - as any review of Nixon's life will - revolves around Watergate, it provides a fascinating summary of his life, and of what added up to make him the troubled and lonely figure he really was. There's also typical Oliver Stone material as dark hints of conspiracy extending far beyond Watergate are inserted. Perhaps the most unsettling being a meeting Nixon has shortly before JFK's assassination with some supporters in Texas who are trying to convince him to run for the presidency again in 1964. Nixon protests that Kennedy can't be beaten in '64. A Cuban American present says ominously "What if Kennedy doesn't run in '64?"
A truly fascinating portrayal of a fascinating man, even in the end somewhat sympathetic to Nixon as the film ends with his 1994 funeral service, some comments at that service by President Clinton and a summary of his career by a narrator pointing out his accomplishments. A last note: kudos to Paul Sorvino, who hit Henry Kissinger bang on.
- Jul 22, 2002