Genres: Drama, Adaptation and Politics/Religion
Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.
Release Date: December 5th, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for some language.
Distributors: Universal Pictures
Directed by: Ron Howard
JJ Rating: B+
Richard Nixon (Frank Langella – you will remember him from Superman Returns playing Perry White) vs. David Frost (Michael Sheen) in an interview battle of who will out fox the other. Will Nixon get away easily as he had done in the past or will Frost nail him to the ground and get an apology out of him…an admission of guilt? Frost/Nixon.
Wow. I now have someone to rival my first Presidential pick for Best Actor: Frank Langella as Richard Nixon. This is one of those times I can’t pick between how well two people have done in their roles. Langella was controlling and subtle like lava slowly taking over the land and burning everything in its wake. Nothing seemed to stop him from being so upstaging when he was on the screen. I eagerly awaited him to return to the screen every scene he was not in.
Michael Sheen is out shined by Langella at every turn, but he holds his own against the Presidential actor. He has to sit opposite chair of him and give reactions to Langella every time he goes over on an answer as well as look uncomfortable for how much trouble he will be in with his camp for allowing it, and he does such a carefully manipulated job that it is also amazing.
Ron Howard has a great eye for angles of what will look good for reactions of characters, to what will look good as a wide shot and so on. He has a fantastic eye for what will capture emotions, power, accomplishment and all other assorted flavors that would broadly show his outstanding talent as a director and give moviegoers satisfaction for money well spent.
The other talents were Sam Rockwell as the angry James Reston Jr. who was looking for the downfall of a single man to make a joyful moment in his life exist. He did well enough because I couldn’t really stand his character. Nothing redeeming about him was even shown. Matthew MacFadyen played the cool headed producer John Birt with a steady acting hand and a smooth tone. Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon played Bob Zelnick and Jack Brenna, respectfully, with ease.
Frost/Nixon is a movie that is just talk. It’s talk about how to do the show, where to get the money, negotiation of price and then the actual interviews. There’s not a whole lot of excitement outside of human reactions. In a film like this you have to have the ability to set the right pacing so that it doesn’t drown in it’s own dramatic secretions. It is one of the better movies that have such control. And the last twenty minutes are oddly riveting, putting me at the edge of my seat via Langella/Sheen/Howard trifecta.
What this film taught me was that hate drives people to find joy in the downfall of another human and that’s disgusting. It also reminds me of this quote: “Woe to those who have more hate than enemies.” – Stanislaw J. Lec. It also taught me that pride can not only block the “bad” but the “good” from developing as a human. That means that those that were painted as the good in Frost/Nixon had just as much pride as those that were painted as the bad. It’s funny how a man can sleep around and be considered a decent person but if you lie tisk, tisk. Let alone the fact that it’s the political realm and lying is like a mantra.
If you are into history, historical moments, political figures or Nixon in the negative like or the positive like you will find this film outstanding in it’s attack on an event that solidified Nixon’s alone time and the rest of his golf playing life doing nothing but what retire persons do. Frost/Nixon may be an adaptation of a play but it pulled out all the meandering boring parts and left us with something that is theatrical to the very core.