By Jack Rico
Rated: R for some language.
Release Date: 2008-12-05
Starring: Peter Morgan
Official Website: http://www.frostnixon.com/
David Frost, a british entertainment interviewer obtains a confession that no one else can from President Richard Nixon on prime-time TV in the 1970’s. That is the plot line from ‘Frost/Nixon’, a compelling retelling of that story and the consequences it had on each one of them after that historic broadcast.
The film, in essence, is a direct shot by shot remake of the London and Broadway versions of the play. The Broadway version I saw in 2007 was powerful and dramatic and showcased the acting mastery of one Frank Langella (Nixon), who went on to win a Tony award for his portrayal of the late President. Langella didn’t then, nor now, look or sound much like the late 37th President, yet, through sheer force of performance, he embodies Nixon. Logically speaking, given the theater award, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be among the candidates for an Oscar award as well. Michael Sheen (Frost) was definitely the supporting actor here playing off the instincts and skill of Langella.
In essence, the movie is a about two people who are losing their social and market value in society and their need to regain it. That plot pales in comparison to the true centerpiece mano a mano interview both men have. The stage and film version invest all their time and effort into making this, “the clash of the century”, “the dual of death”, into the definitive verbal battle in political and media history.
Even though liberties are taken with the facts to create moments of dramatic tension throughout the film, Frost/Nixon manages to capture a glimpse into the life of one of the most controversial figures in the history of American politics.
The acting performances is what director Ron Howard (The DaVinci Code, Apollo 13) bets the house on. He managed to obtain convincing and captivating performances, yet everything else was secondary for him and it showed.
If you’re not into politics nor the media industry, then Frost/Nixon won’t titillate you that much. If the contrary applies, especially after experiencing the energy and results of our recent presidential campaign, this film is just the right dose of politics you’re looking for.