Centred on a storm-tossed night in 1973, with President Nixon slipping into embittered reverie and recollection as he sits in the Lincoln Room at the White House listening to the tapes that may prove his undoing, Stone's film flashes back to Nixon's childhood in '20s California before meandering on to modern times and ending with his funeral. Though fragmented and using various styles and filmstocks, this is more engrossing than most of the duds in the director's ambitious but frustrating career, partly because it focuses squarely on such a tantalising protagonist. As played (not mimicked) by Hopkins, Tricky Dick is a maelstrom of emotions: convinced he's universally misunderstood and hated; haunted by guilt over the dead Kennedys and his own TB-afflicted brothers; alternating between idealism and despair, honesty and lies; scared, stubborn, erratic. It's a rich conception, well supported by muscular performances from Boothe (Al Haig), Sorvino (Kissinger), Hoskins (Hoover) and, especially, Allen (Nixon's wife Pat). With Watergate dominating the third and final hour, however, the narrative becomes more familiar, predictable and prone to bathos and bombast: as wayward and self-regarding as its subject, the film long overstays its welcome.