FBMR- The Assassination of Richard Nixon
Film-Buff Movie Reviews


THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON (2004) **

Long gone are the days of Pennís Jeff Spicoli. In fact, ever since COLOURS in 1988, Sean Penn has been tackling, and very well so, tough, gritty, dramatic roles. Several have garnered him Academy Award nominations, let alone critical praise. This film is another superbly acted piece. Based on true events, Penn plays Samuel Bicke (the real Samuel spelled his name Byck), a down-on-his luck salesman, husband, and father. He never seemed to be quite right in the head. His view of the world was slightly askew and he didnít always seem to understand normal convention and behaviour, but he was very earnest about sincerity and honesty in his sales and family life. Unfortunately, these and his quirks lead to him often losing his job and ultimately his marriage failing, and his inability to close that wound. The system also impedes his ambition. He fails to comprehend why it will take so long for his small business loan to be processed and why thereís so much red-tape around this process. Like a child, he becomes frustrated and impatient. His business plan is to be completely honest in his sales, and provide a service that does not exist yet, and actually sounds a little silly: tire delivery and installation, driving around the city in a gutted school bus selling and delivering tires. But he is surrounded by people who donít want to give him a chance, who care only about themselves, their business, making the most money in their sales, and neglecting the customer. And behind many of the scenes, we see TV clips of Richard Nixon lying about the Watergate scandal. Bicke decides that Nixon is the root of all that he believes to be wrong with the system, he plots to assassinate him.

Penn does a very good job of generating sympathy for this character, but also offers glimpses into his own contradictions and hypocrisy. Naomi Watts plays Samuelís wife who is trying to make ends meet and get on with her life. She also shows her vulnerability, but at the same time demonstrates her impatience and sometimes unreasonable actions towards Samuel.

This wasnít the best movie in the world, and often dragged a little too slowly. But from an acting point of view, it is very good.