Monday, 29 December 2008

Frost/Nixon: Movie Review

Frost/Nixon: Movie Review

Rating: 9/10

Cast: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Macfadyen, Rebecca Hall

Director: Ron Howard

There's no greater battlefield than politics.

In 1977, a disgraced Richard Nixon agreed to a fluff piece with British talk-show host David Frost. Nixon's aids viewed the interview as a potential inroad back into American hearts and politics after the Watergate scandal.

Frost seemed the most unlikely of journalists to tackle 'tricky Dicky'. A man more accustomed to interviewing pop stars, Frost initially chased the interview with hopes of securing high television ratings.

Naturally his priorities changed, and Frost found himself in the unenviable position of putting one of America's most corrupt leaders on trial on television screens worldwide.

Frost/Nixon is released in cinemas at the perfect time: as the world waits for a much maligned Republican president to exit office, the story of a former leader being held accountable for questionable decisions hits the theatres.

Fortunately Ron Howard has redeemed himself for the 'hiccup' that was The Da Vinci Code .

Frost/Nixon retains many facets of the successful stage production: playwright Peter Morgan adapted his script for the screen, and lead actors Frank Langella and Michael Sheen reprise their roles as Nixon and Frost respectively (Langella won a Tony for his portrayal of Nixon).

Neither are particularly prolific actors, and obviously their experience was valued over notoriety. It's a wise move: Frost/Nixon would be lost without their chemistry.

The two are ably supported by Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Matthew Macfadyen and Rebecca Hall.

But this is really Langella and Sheen's film. The two manage to turn a homely 1970s lounge into a battleground. They take turns playing the hunter and the hunted. Yet the climax of this battle avoids cliché and sentimentality: has the winner really won? Would he regard this as a victory?

This is a refreshing change from Howard, a man fond of romanticising achievement (as seen in Apollo 13 and Cinderella Man ).

Multiplexes are crowded with films that increasingly rely on special effects and brute force to showcase conflict. Frost/Nixon marks a refreshing change: two guys using nothing but words to outwit the opponent.
Go see it - now.

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