Reviews

Frost / Nixon

3

It’s Rocky! Er, the political TV debate version…

It’s a terrific premise: cheesy TV star David Frost tries to resuscitate his international career with a big-hitting interview with the disgraced President Nixon.

A scarred America watches with bated breath for the retribution they seek, nay need. Will Tricky Dicky escape again?

Of course, the reality may have been a tad less dramatic: Frost’s career was no more on the ropes than anyone else who endures the vagaries of television.

Nor was he really a Bee Gees-interviewing hack. A Cambridge graduate who’d been at the forefront of anti-establishment satire with That Was The Week That Was, he already had a track record of interviewing political figures and practically introduced the idea of trial by television with his on-screen demolition of insurance fraudster, Emil Savundra.

And the reclusive Nixon? Already pardoned, he just wanted a big cheque to talk, albeit one the American TV networks weren’t willing to pay to a shamed leader.

Peter Morgan’s screenplay, (adapted from his own play), nods at such truths, but also scurries over them quickly enough to maintain the propulsive David and Goliath structure he’s engineered.

Michael Sheen’s Frost is slick but somewhat one-dimensional; with the actor given so little meat, you do occasionally feel you’re watching his
Tony Blair turn in The Queen.

Meanwhile, Frank Langella plays Nixon as a wounded lion with a destructive streak fuelled by self-loathing. It’s a compelling performance, if
maybe historically questionable.

But the film’s rapid pace leaves little time for contemplation. Director Ron Howard smartly and assuredly opens up the play into genuine
cinema with astute location work and a tidy eye for framing interiors.

The period dressing, from first-class air travel to five-star hotels, is astute but never allowed to distract. And the supporting cast are all pitch-perfect.

But ultimately, for all the talent on display, this remains Hollywood ham. High-calibre ham, mind.

Verdict:

Slickly done and easy to watch, but not quite the commentary on modern politics it could/should have been. An historic moment becomes a film that’s more pop than culture.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • joker16

      Mar 8th 2009, 15:08

      4

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    • nolanfan

      Aug 9th 2009, 10:40

      4

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    • bassthing

      Mar 11th 2010, 23:47

      4

      I was initially put off Frost/Nixon as it is directed by Ron Howard, a man I have not consider to be a good director until now. The film is a surprising gem. I cannot claim to know a great amount about the material it deals with but I admired the fact that the film does not appear to take the easy way out and vilify Richard Nixon, instead it present an engaging and somewhat objective version of the Frost/Nixon interviews and the difficulty Frost faced to arrange these interviews. The two central performances are brilliantly acted, and the ensemble cast surrounding this are amazing, particularly Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt. This story is as relevant today as it was when it happened, the abuse of power by the president and their arrogance whilst in power.

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    • zakmccormack

      Nov 12th 2010, 22:19

      3

      It was alright, but it could have been alot better, can't really say anything that hasn't been said in the review

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