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Frost / Nixon (2008)

Review: written Dec 2009

Efficient and compelling account of the Nixon interviews

Frost Nixon (2008)

Ron Howard seems to be becoming the king of movies where you know the ending.. Da Vinci Code, which let's face it, just about everyone had read or at least heard the ending, Apollo 13, or even arguably A Beautiful Mind... and now we have Frost / Nixon, a reconstruction of the interviews, and story behind the interviews, of which the main result is already well known.

It's 1977, and Nixon has been out of the public eye since his resignation in 1974. A young TV presenter, David Frost, in need of a hit to bolster his career, puts everything he has into a series of 4 interviews with Nixon. The result - well, far be it from me to spoil the ending, just in case you don't know - but even if you do, just like the director's previous outings it ends up being surprisingly watchable and even tense. Howard succeeds by making this less about the details of Nixon or Watergate, and instead focuses on Frost. What made him tick, and how did he turn things around against the odds. That, and the fascinating idea of the interview as a duel between the two men. That mixture is then admirably steered to success by two terrific performances from the leads... If you are familiar with Frost, when you first see Sheen as Frost your jaw will drop, but beyond the astonishing mimicry, Sheen gets under the skin of the character Frost is portrayed as.. ambitious, performer, party animal, but underneath the surface, a latent ability to grab on like a terrier and not let go. For Frank Langella's part, he certainly captures the haunted frustration and loneliness, combined with fierce intellect, of Nixon. The main two are ably supported by a terrific supporting cast - Kevin Bacon, Toby Jones, Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell all have moments to shine, though the token female role played by Rebecca Hall seems redundant in the context of the movie.

Whether this is really how it went down has been much discussed, the phone call that is key to the events in the movie, never happened in reality we are told. But these tweaks from history notwithstanding, this is great drama, presented with Howard's trademark slick efficiency. There may be no guns, no car chases and a lot of talking - but it's no less a thriller for all that. What's more, the bluray has excerpts of the original interviews, which make fascinating viewing, particularly in the side by side mode with the movie.


Frost Nixon (2008)

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