"Nixon" is terrific filmmaking. Anthony Hopkins, with only the slightest bit of help from the make-up department, glides effortlessly into the role of the most infamous president in American History. His inestimable contribution to this film will be remembered when the Academy Award nominations are announced in February. Director Oliver Stone has made a good follow-up to his even better film, "JFK". However, "Nixon" has the distinction of being based more on fact and less on conjecture than the other film.
The movies traces Richard Milhouse Nixon's life from childhood, during which he lost two brothers, right up to his resignation from the most powerful position in the free world. Along the way, it pulls nary a punch in chronicling the life of this savvy, but paranoid, politician. All of his successes and defeats are depicted, along with the accompanying story of how these affected his family life. Of course, Oliver Stone being Oliver Stone, the film includes scenes which imply Nixon's involvement in, or at least knowledge of, incidents such as the "Bay of Pigs" invasion and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his brother, Bobby.
"Nixon" carefully declines to take a position which would promote the president as either a devious crook or a misguided saint. Such honesty allows Hopkins to explore the role fully and create one of the most astounding performances in recent history. Although there are times where familiarity with the subject matter will aid in understanding "Nixon" and Nixon, everyone should be able to come away from this film with a greater appreciation for the trials and tribulations of a life in politics and the public eye.