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A chilling drama that explores and exposes the dark side of the American Dream, The Assassination of Richard Nixon focuses on the tragic true story of Sam Bicke (Sean Penn), a disillusioned everyman who, in 1974, was driven to plot the assassination of the 37th president of the United States.
Sean Penn (looking rather Rupert Pupkin-like) is Samuel Bicke, whose life, circa 1974, has become unbearable. His wife (Naomi Watts) has left him, his dead-end sales job is killing him--even his best friend (Don Cheadle) has had enough. Bicke's a loser, but at least he's an honest one. Nixon, the epitome of dishonesty, becomes the locus of his rage, so Bicke devises a plan to eliminate him. Paul Schrader claims he finished writing Taxi Driver before the real-life Byck attempted to assassinate the president. Maybe so, but the similarities are hard to ignore (and "Bickle" sounds a lot like "Byck"). Niels Mueller (Tadpole) doesn't disguise the fact that his debut was inspired by the guy. If The Assassination of Richard Nixon doesn't hit Taxi Driver's (admittedly lofty) heights, it's still a discomfiting look at a man determined to leave his mark on the world, only to become a footnote. --Kathleen C. Fennessy