Assassination of Richard Nixon, The (2004) - Synopsis

A chilling drama that explores and exposes the dark side of the American Dream, THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON focuses on the prescient and tragic true story of Sam Bicke (Penn), a disillusioned "everyman" who, in 1974, was driven to plot the assassination of the 37th President of the United States.

Despite the fact that his marriage is breaking up and that he is trapped in a sales job he finds demeaning, Sam tries desperately to succeed both at home and in the workplace; all he wants is to win his family back and to start a business of his own. However, in a society worn down by political corruption and the Vietnam War, there is not much room left for dreamers. Sam's world unravels against the backdrop of the Watergate scandal, which exposes culpability at the highest levels of society. With images of Nixon-- “the greatest salesman of them all”-- flooding the airwaves, Sam believes he has found the person responsible for his, and America’s, problems and makes his appointment with destiny.

With this role, which is the diametric opposite to his Oscar-winning triumph in last year’s MYSTIC RIVER, Penn proves that he is at the very peak of his career, delivering a quietly explosive performance that is at once heartbreaking and horrifying. Though set in an America of thirty years ago, THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON, particularly its shattering dénouement, achieves an eerie topicality and resonance in our equally disillusioned, post-9/11 era.