The Assassination Of Richard Nixon


Directed by: Niels Mueller
Written by:Kevin Kennedy, Niels Mueller
Starring: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Don Cheadles, Jack Thompson, Michael Wincott, Mykelti Williamson
Released: June 9, 2005
Grade: A-

Samuel Bicke (Penn) is a simple but troubled man who can’t find the life he is searching for.  His wife Marie (Watts) left him and took custody of their three children.  Sam has the deluded belief that he will be able to patch things up with Marie but her actions suggest otherwise.  His persistence is only pushing Marie further away.

Sam’s also struggling to make the most of his new job as an office furniture salesman.  He doesn’t belong there and the idea of lying to customers to make a sale is something that doesn’t sit well with him.  His boss (Thompson) is also frustrated by Sam’s inability to put his strict morals aside and make a sale.

Determined to do things his own way, Sam tries to go into business with a friend (Cheadle) selling tyres.  He applies for a bank loan to get things started but it’s going to be at least six weeks before the loan application can be processed.  It’s an eternity for Sam who needs the money now.  He no longer has the patience to put up with his current job and the continual rejections from his wife.  Something has to give… and it does.

The Assassination Of Richard Nixon reminded me very much of Falling Down with Michael Douglas.  It’s the story of a man who is acting outside the parameters of normality but doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions.  In the leading role, Sean Penn’s performance is superb and despite his character’s wrong actions, you will feel sympathetic and understanding of the forces which drive him.  Australian is well represented with Naomi Watts and a great showing from Jack Thompson (who I haven’t on the big screen much of late).

There’s an interesting quib about The Assassination of Richard Nixon at the Internet Movie Database website.  The film was initially conceived as a work of fiction but whilst researching, they learned that a similar situation had once occurred.  The final product is a compelling movie which mixes both truth and fiction.