Frost/Nixon Directed by: Ron Howard
Cast: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell
Running Time: 2 hrs
Plot: Because of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon (Langella) was the first American president to resign from office. David Frost, an Australian talk show host, was the unlikely interviewer who sought to uncover the truth about Nixon's business with the event of Watergate.
Who’s It For? Film-buffs, history-buffs and even Nixon-buffs. Anyone intrigued will be reasonably satisfied with this engaging film.
Expectations: Frost/Nixon had an incredible trailer that ignited excitement way back in September. With writer Peter Morgan, director Ron Howard, and a great ensemble cast, this looked to be one of the year's best.
Actors: Frank Langella as Richard Nixon: Langella won a Tony award for playing Nixon in this story's original stage format. His remarkable embodiment is one that surpasses mere imitation into something only achieved by Hollywood's best. In a critics' dictionary, the phrase "disappearing into a role" can use this performance as a part of its definition. Score: 10
Michael Sheen as David Frost: This character doesn't require the theatrics of his presidential screen-partner, but by no means should this role be overlooked. Sheen has a noteworthy performance as the determined TV personality, accurately portraying the hopes and dreams of character who only seems simple on his resume. Score: 7
Kevin Bacon as Jack Brennan: The character of staunch Nixon-supporter Jack Brennan is amusing at best. While his character has something to say about those who stood by the ex-president (and still do), his importance is reduced by lack of screen time. Regardless, it's nice to see Bacon back on the multiplex screen.
Rebecca Hall as Caroline Cushing: As Frost's love interest, she's a mostly disposable character. But her female presence allows Nixon to show his gentlemanly side in some brief yet entertaining encounters. It would be unthinkable to compare this role to her dominating and important performance as Vicky in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Score: 4
Rest of cast: Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, and Sam Rockwell play the men who make up Frost's strategy team. Quirky and interesting, they're the film's dominating source of light entertainment and education when Frost or Nixon aren't on screen. Score: 7
Talking: In the film, Nixon has many interesting moments of dialogue, but unfortunately an unfair amount of them are spoiled by the film's previews. Fascinating and shocking lines like "when the president does it, that means its not illegal!" lose some of their electricity because any moviegoer or TV-watcher of the last 2 months has heard it before. Score: 7
Sights: The performances and story within Frost/Nixon make the film special - not the invisible direction of Ron Howard. The director (who admitted to voting for Nixon in 1972) does a credible job of presenting the story, but visuals and cinematography are low on this film's priority list compared to its concentration on strong narrative and portrayal. Score: 5
Sounds: Hans Zimmer's score is effortlessly good. But it is not as memorable nor fascinating as the moment when Langella (as Nixon) plays a somber piano piece supposedly written by the president. It is a significant emotional moment that so simply captures the pain inside the troubled ex-politician. Langella's unstoppable portrayal of Nixon is continued even further by his actual playing of the piano. Score: 7
Best Scene: The fourth and final part of the interview is the best moment in the entire film. And easily one of the most intense scenes of the year.
Ending: The success of the interviews affects the unlikely opponents in both positive and negative ways.
Questions: None particularly. A speedy textual epilogue right before the credits updates the audience on what everyone involved went onto next.
Rewatchability: The experience of Frost/Nixon will be more likely to spike interest in watching the actual interviews, as opposed to re-views of the film based on them.
Despite the film's energy right from the start, Frost/Nixon can't deny the fact that its second half is much more interesting than its first. The choice of adding staged interviews with those involved is amusing, funny at times, but not entirely necessary. The narrative is able to speak for itself, without such bits of documentary.
Frost/Nixon is a highly enjoyable film, but it's an even better history lesson. While the film educates on the frustrated compassion missing from Tricky Dick's seemingly rough public image, its release has a curious correlation to modern troubled politicians - namely Illinois Governor Blagojevich and even the soon departing President Bush. Will there be more Davids to face off against such political Goliaths?
Final Score: 7/10