It’s not always that a stage play translates particularly well to the medium of movies. But for anyone considering such a challenge in the future, Frost/Nixon
is surely a fine template to follow. In the capable hands of director Ron Howard, the extraordinary story of how a then-fairly low profile television interviewer managed to bring the disgraced former President of the United States to account is, at best, absolutely riveting.
Much of the reason for this is the two leading performances, which are both absolutely exception. The awards attention for Frost/Nixon has been directed towards Frank Langella, and truly he’s an actor long overdue some recognition. Here, as ex-President Nixon, he’s flat-out brilliant: a complex, intriguing character portrayed with real measure and expertise. It’s unfair, though, that Michael Sheen has been overlooked by some. Fresh from portraying Tony Blair in The Queen, Sheen is once more brilliant here, injecting Frost with an erratic, on-the-edge fallibility that sets up the film’s final act extremely well.
Now you can argue, with some right, that Frost/Nixon flattens out some of the facts to its own liking, and certainly the portrayal of David Frost doesn’t seem to do the man too many favours. But when it gets to the interviews themselves, it’s electric, and proof that you don’t need a bunch of effects and flashy gimmicks to keep you on the edge of your seat. Ron Howard has done this to us before with a true story, in the shape of Apollo 13, and here again, even though we know the ending, the journey there is quite brilliant. You really can make compelling drama with just two people sat in a chair… --Simon Brew Stills from Frost/Nixon
Based on Peter Morgan's stage play, Ron Howard directs this dramatised account of the 1977 TV interviews between scandalised former President Richard Nixon and British talk-show host David Frost. Three years after the Watergate scandal that led to his demise, former president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) sat down with Frost (Michael Sheen) to discuss, for the first and only time, the details of his term in the White House and his spectacular fall from grace. With the famously steely Nixon confident that he could come out tops in the encounter, and Frost's side questioning whether this was a step too far, media commentators prepared themselves for a PR exercise. But when the interviews got underway, observers were astonished when both men abandoned their usual stances, and chose to conduct an open, honest and frank exchange of views, covering all the areas of concern that had previously remained off-limits. In addition to covering the interviews themselves, the film also traces the difficulties that had to be overcome, and egos that had to massaged, before the historic events could finally take place.