Review: Frost/Nixon

Frost/Nixon (2008)
122 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Ron Howard
Starring:  Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt


Grade:  B+

As an introduction, I must admit that my viewing experience for Frost/Nixon was quite different from yours.  Seated in a fairly empty theater, about 30 minutes into the film the screen went black and the fire alarm went off.  After 15-20 minutes passed by, we were allowed back into the theater and the film continued shortly after.  I believe a film should be viewed without interruptions and straight through.  Although I don’t think the interruption altered my view of the film, it is note-worthy… plus this is the first time the fire alarm ever went off while I was watching a movie.

Peter Morgan teams up with Frank Langella again as they collaborate with Ron Howard to create the theater-adapted Frost/Nixon.  Being only 23 years old, I didn’t live through these real interviews between Richard Nixon and David Frost, though I can only imagine if I did that my eyes would’ve been glued to the TV-set.  Unless the interviews weren’t as interesting as this movie was.  I guess I’ll never know.

The plot of the story is simple and not especially exciting.  David Frost was an international talk show host who enjoyed partying and having a laugh.  After Nixon resigned his presidency because of the Watergate scandals, David Frost got the idea.  He wanted to interview Nixon, one-on-one, and give the American people the trial he never got.  Sounds simple enough, right?

But Frost ran into obstacle after obstacle.  He was having difficulties finding the financial necessity to launch the interviews.  Things began to heat up in the Frost team.  No network wanted to pick up the interviews to air, sponsors were dropping like flies, and everyone’s reputation was at stake, especially Frost’s.  He was also over-matched by Nixon in intelligence, wit, and personality.  Eventually, the interviews were set up and they were rolling.

Frost/Nixon is almost set up like a sports film, specifically a boxing match.  There was a lot of hype leading up to the big championship event.  In one corner, the welterweight Frost who has something to prove and everything to lose if things do not go in his favor.  It was a briliant idea of his, but no one thought that Frost was the right man for it.

On the other corner, the heavyweight Nixon:  a towering and strong president who was simply over-powering for Frost.  Both had a team who helped prep them for the interviews.  Nixon did his homework and ripped apart the unprepared Frost during the first three interviews.  But it was the fourth and last interview that would stand out the most.  The fourth interview that would discuss Watergate for 90 minutes.  The final round to declare the winner of the match.

That is where the film jumps out and grabs you in.  There is a universal importance within these interviews that goes without being said.  The film emphasizes the personal importance these interviews stand for among the players directly involved.  Ron Howard plays with the audience, collaborates different characters with different objectives that all arrive at one point: the final interview.  It’s an old-fashion underdog tale that has the ripple effect to cripple Nixon and launch Frost.

The performances in Frost/Nixon were stellar.  Langella, having already won a Tony Award for his portrayal of President Nixon in the theater original of this film, is phenomenal again.  Michael Sheen is great as presenting himself against the President with the world watching him.  The series of interviews was a spectacle to watch; two actors feeding off of each other and playing their character flawlessly.

Overall, I felt this film was an extremely solid feature with superb acting and fine direction.  It’s definitely one of the best from the year and a docudrama for the ages.

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