Frost / Nixon(2008)
Sir David Frost is a British TV broadcaster famed both for his no-holds-barred political interviews and for presenting a popular lighthearted quiz show called Through The Keyhole. Thankfully, this Ron Howard (Da Vinci Code, Cinderella Man) drama focuses on the former aspect of his career, dramatising his most significant scoop - when he coaxed a tacit admission of guilt out of former US President Richard Nixon, following the 1970s Watergate scandal which rocked American politics.
The film is an adaptation of the West End/Broadway stage play by Peter Morgan, and the original actors have retained the lead roles for the film - Frank Langella (Good Night, And Good Luck) plays Nixon, while Michael Sheen (who played Tony Blair in The Queen) takes on the role of interrogator Frost.
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BY Andrew Hedley Flicks Writer
Frost/Nixon exceeded my modest expectations. I had anticipated one of those 60’s/70’s period dramas, which are all period, no drama. You know the ones – they’ve got the faux-jazz soundtracks, the ‘groovy’ camera angles and the lukewarm humour. But this is something better.
This is an enthralling game of cat-and-mouse that plays out between disgraced ex-President Richard Nixon (Langella) and BBC talk show host David Frost (Sheen, last seen as Tony Blair in The Queen) as the latter works to elicit an admission of guilt from the big man. Both actors reprise their roles from the Broadway stage play by Peter Morgan (who adapts his story for the screen). Their performances are captivating, less concerned with direct impersonation as they are with capturing the essence of these media-savvy entrepreneurs.
The limited scale of the play has been broadened for the cinema, but the strongest scenes are still those between the two leads as they sit metres apart, engaging in an intimate battle of wits and words. Despite the 70’s setting, art direction thankfully never overwhelms.
This is director Ron Howard’s best film since Apollo 13. Understanding, as Frost did, the ‘power of the close-up’, Howard lingers on the eyes of his characters as they skitter about. He never takes sides, wisely choosing to not portray Nixon as a slimy liar nor Frost as a flippant socialite, instead balancing our sympathies this way then the other until the final showdown.
The jury’s still out on whether the inclusion of ‘talking head’ scenes (including Rockwell, Macfadyen, Bacon and Platt) to create a documentary feel is of worth or remains a gimmick. But aside from minor niggles, Frost/Nixon emerges from the spotlight as a thoroughly entertaining look at an infamous face-off.
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Frost / Nixon
For those who know Sir David Frost as just the acclaimed TV interviewer, this film is really interesting as it shows his transformation from the
lighter-weight entertainment presenter to his current serious interviewer.
Michael Sheen and Frank Langella give amazingly gritty performances probably as they've been playing their roles on stage for years. The tension builds up progressively until it is intense - like the real interviews went.
One of the best films I've ever seen. A must see
This is a rather simple story, not - on the surface - a wonderful idea for a movie you'd think. But they do it so well, selling the setup/showdown between flaky Frost and wily Nixon. By the time a winner is revealed, you don't know who you want to take it out.
Great performances also from the whole cast.
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