This movie is about two dudes in a room. It shouldn’t work as a movie. The bulk of it is two men in a suburban living room sparring with each other. Boring… not! Because the two men are David Frost and Richard Nixon and as one of the characters says – this interview is the trial Nixon never had thanks to Gerald Ford’s pardon.
I’ve got to say that the movie is as good as everyone’s been saying. While I would like to have learned more about Michael Sheen’s David Frost (Sheen was great as Tony Blair in The Queen), he does a good communicating the mental movement of Frost from the flippant world of talk show hosting to the very serious work of presidential interviewing. And Frank Langella.
Richard Nixon is almost like a caricature of himself already. When he said “I’m not a crook”, it’s almost like a comedian doing the line. And yet, while Langella uses some of the verbal intonations of Nixon, it doesn’t come across like schtick. Nowadays most actors can’t convey emotions using words, and yet in this film Langella has the uber-level chops to convey a human change of emotion on his face that is almost haunting. It will be a shame if he doesn’t go home with a few awards this award season.
The biggest disappointment – and it is a minor one in what is one of the best movies of the year – is how under utilized Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt are as Frost’s researchers. They got some of the funniest lines but I would have liked to see more about how they worked with Frost and their personal/professional reasonings for why they stuck with the project.
But overall, a great movie, and in some way I felt it was sympathetic towards Nixon. Yet, as great as Frank Langella’s performance was its probably a testament to what he did that Nixon in the movie felt as unworthy of sympathy to me as Nixon in real life. The man trashed democracy and felt he was justified in doing so to the grave.
There is also a very important moment in the movie punctuated with a dachshund. Really.
Frost/Nixon: The Original Watergate Interviews on DVD
Frost/Nixon 2008 on DVD