Reviewed on 2009 January 7
Excellent movie, starting with some wonderful grainy footage of the Watergate mess and moving into the story of how British comedian and talk show host David Frost got an unprecedented interview with Richard Nixon.
After Nixon’s (Frank Langella) resignation, Frost (Michael Sheen) decides he wants to interview the president too. He thinks the show would be a coup for his ratings, and a win for The Frost Report fans who’d love to see “the real Nixon”. It sounds like a straightforward project, but nothing can go easily in show business or politics. Nixon’s agent Swifty Lazar (Toby Jones) wants a large chunk of money for this and that may be harder for Frost to raise than anticipated. One of Frost’s partners in this, James Reston Jr. (Sam Rockwell) wants Frost to go for Nixon’s jugular, giving him “the trial he never had”, but Nixon’s former military aide and pit bull Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon) is very controlling about what may and may not be asked. Finally, Nixon wasn’t called “Tricky Dick” for nothing.
This was very well done by Ron Howard, and the acting was great from everybody, especially Langella and Sheen. Langella outdid himself, making Nixon a complex — and dare I say, almost sympathetic at times — character, instead of a human piñata to be swung at by late-night comedians. There’s a time and a place for that too, but this was something with more depth. The detail is wonderful too. There are even some old commercials in the background at various points, and the hair and clothes are phenomenal. Any time you have a dialogue-driven movie the script needs to be brilliant, and this one rises to the occasion. I love the little joke Nixon plays on Brennan before the interviews start.
Four chocolate morsels.