Frost/Nixon (15)

Film

Drama

Frost.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jan 20 2009

The bringing together by producers Working Title of mainstream-as-they-come American director Ron Howard and probing, journalistic British screenwriter Peter Morgan is a little like the meeting of disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon and flamboyant television entrepreneur David Frost in 1977: awkward, savvily opportunistic and a reflection of how we do things differently either side of the pond.

The outcome isn’t half as conflicted as you might imagine, though it’s hard to argue that Howard brings anything new to Morgan’s play. Perhaps his biggest achievement is to preserve the fine performances of Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, who both starred in the original London theatre production.

What the director of ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘Cinderella Man’ does find in Morgan’s typically bold and witty script is an energetic sports movie, with an underdog, Frost, who flounders for three quarters before triumphing in the fourth, along the way indulging in sweaty close-ups, ample pep talks and an extended training period. The assumption is that we know all about Nixon (and, if we don’t, the film isn’t telling), played more endearingly by Langella than by Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone’s 1995 biopic. This means that the pre-match focus is mostly reserved for Sheen’s Frost and his three-man team of two researchers and a producer who act as foils to their boss’s strengths and failings.

It’s not Sheen’s best performance, but he’s likeable nonetheless and his wayward charm, along with Langella’s increasing vulnerability as Nixon, goes some way to carrying the movie. Sheen’s Frost is a very English playboy with one eye on the prize and another on the ladies, allowing for the entry of Rebecca Hall as Frost’s sideshow love interest. She’s underwritten, for sure, but there’s period pleasure to be won from a mid-Atlantic seduction scene during which, like most of the film, there’s much to enjoy but little to learn.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Jan 9, 2009

Duration:

122 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

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Technoguy

This was a two-hander of a movie based on a long-running stage play by Peter Morgan in which the two principal actors( Langhella and Sheen) reprised their roles. Not forgetting that Howard made a boxing film, Cinderella Man, this goes the distance of punches (to reputation) and jabs(to esteem) with the possibility of only one coming out a winner, taking into account the feints, parries, time-wasting and cover-ups. We get a lot of tension built up pre-fight by concentrating on the Frost camp, with two researchers and a producer, and no network willing to put it on or being criminally underfunded. As a play-boy talk show host whose best years are behind him we concentrate on his girlfriend, his show-biz energy and charm and how he is putting everything on this last roll of the dice to boost his career.Langhella plays Nixon as a human being who is vulnerable and impressed by Frost’s Italian shoes, his parties and his girlfriend. Nixon is seen to win the early rounds of the interview with his aide, Kevin Bacon ,willing to step in at any perceived underhand ploy by Frost to make his man divulge. The fact that Frost has access to unpublished interviews between Coulson and Nixon which he quotes from and he is the recipient of a late-night drunken phone call from Nixon ,just gives him the edge to make the knockout blow and to force the confession: he abused his position as President to authorise the break-ins and pay for the cover-up. Just as the tapes cost Nixon the Presidency and proved his role in the Watergate scandal due to the admission of the man, Butterfield, who knew of them(one of three) so the Frost-Nixon interview got to Nixon in a way that no journalist , trial or impeachment could do. The little man whose lack of social graces and his vanity made him seek the highest office in the land and once there to seek total control through the tapes, would prove his undoing. I don’t think the film was particularly great as a film and it didn’t quite bring out the seriousness of the subject.

Bill D.

For me the film's pleasure was the performance of Frank Langella - hardly mentioned elsewhere. With much of his portrayal seen in closeup this was a filmic performance deserving of Oscar nomination. He gave Nixon an intellectual depth not usually acknowledged and even managed to elicit some sympathy for him at the end.

MIKE

Having lived in America from 1963 TO 1970, we experienced the inauguration of President Nixon. On our return to live in England, we saw the original interviews. This film is an excellent reconstrution of a very important event in American political history. The portrayal in this film of Frost and Nixon, although of Oscar winning level, seemed a bit too intense, especially the emotional scenes during the final interview. We were very surprised at the interest shown by an almost fully packed cinema. I would have expected a limited audience. Maybe this interest is generated by the latest amazing political change in American political history, which we could not have considered possible when we were living there, during the Civil Rights, in which we became active.

MIKE

Having lived in America from 1963 TO 1970, we experienced the inauguration of President Nixon. On our return to live in England, we saw the original interviews. This film is an excellent reconstrution of a very important event in American political history. The portrayal in this film of Frost and Nixon, although of Oscar winning level, seemed a bit too intense, especially the emotional scenes during the final interview. We were very surprised at the interest shown by an almost fully packed cinema. I would have expected a limited audience. Maybe this interest is generated by the latest amazing political change in American political history, which we could not have considered possible when we were living there, during the Civil Rights, in which we became active.

itchee

Frost was a bit Alan Partridge at the beginning, no? Ron Howard did another great film.

Laura Shwen, Liverpool UK

My Mother and I saw a preview of this film on 05/01/09. It's magnificent! Absolutely captivating, edge-of-your seat stuff! Really great to see British Actors doing so well too!

Laura Shwen, Liverpool UK

My Mother and I saw a preview of this film on 05/01/09. It's magnificent! Absolutely captivating, edge-of-your seat stuff! Really great to see British Actors doing so well too!