HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
   
 
Newest Articles
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
   
 
  Frost/Nixon Trial by televisionBuy this film here.
Year: 2008
Director: Ron Howard
Stars: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones, Andy Milder, Kate Jennings Grant, Gabriel Jarret, Jim Meskimen, Patty McCormack, Geoffrey Blake, Clint Howard
Genre: Drama, Biopic
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: Three years after the Watergate scandal forced him from office, disgraced President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) breaks his silence and agrees to sit for an in-depth interview with British media personality David Frost (Michael Sheen). Ever the cunning strategist, Nixon believes he can easily outfox Frost, whom he perceives as a vapid showbiz figure, and somehow win back the American people whilst pocketing a $600,000 fee. Likewise Frost’s producer John Birt (Matthew Macfadyen) and researchers Bob Zelnick (Oliver Platt) and James Reston Jr. (Sam Rockwell) have doubts about their boss’ ability to hold his own. But as the cameras roll, a gripping battle of wits ensues.

Adapting his critically acclaimed stage play, writer Peter Morgan presents the legendary Frost/Nixon encounter as less a post-mortem of the socio-political trauma wrought by Watergate and more an epochal moment in American television. For its first act at least, the film feels more like a behind-the-scenes showbiz biopic or at best, an anatomy of a landmark pop cultural event. In that spirit, Morgan arguably found an ideal collaborator in Ron Howard - a filmmaker who quite literally grew up on American television via his sitcom stardom on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days. Howard may be hit-and-miss when dabbling in other genres, but has always been at his best as a chronicler of great moments in American media. He understands television, whether detailing Frost’s complex wrangling with network executives or deftly illustrating how one final close-up sealed Nixon’s fate - just as, the president ruefully admits, it cost him the debate with John F. Kennedy all those years ago.

With the focus initially on the dance of media negotiation, it’s down to James Reston to remind Frost, and viewers, that Nixon betrayed the trust placed in him by the American people and left the nation traumatised. Morgan transforms the interview into a prize fight between a heavyweight (people forget, Nixon excelled in the debating arena) and a rank outsider. Presidential aide Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon) circles the ring rallying Nixon almost exactly like a boxing coach. Morgan employs a degree of dramatic licence here as the wily Nixon flummoxes Frost in the first two rounds (including the crucial question of the Vietnam war) before the underdog (having revived his spirit and trained all night in classic fashion) hits back with a killer punch. In reality, according to Frost’s girlfriend Caroline Cushing, played here by Rebecca Hall, the veteran broadcaster was not at all disheartened by the first two interviews. More troublingly, several commentators have accused the film of historical revisionism claiming Frost never really drew such a contrite confession from “Tricky Dick”. Some have gone so far as to claim the film attempts to turn a loss into a win, although even James Reston admits he initially failed to appreciate the significance of what Frost achieved. What plays one way in the room, plays a whole other way on a TV screen as Morgan, Howard and crucially David Frost understood only too well.

British viewers who have grown up watching the avuncular Frost may be surprised to see him portrayed as this flawed hero. The film tags Frost “a man without political convictions” and strangely downplays his solid journalistic credentials. Ironically, if indirectly, it upholds the British establishment’s initial impression of Frost when he first appeared on the scene in the early Sixties: facile, materialistic and vaguely self-aggrandising. At least the third act has Frost rebound as the verbal jouster we know him to be, at least at that point in his career. Since President Nixon’s death in 1994, revisionists have made a conspicuous effort to recast him as a victim of his own demons rather than the monster he was to a whole generation during the Sixties and Seventies. There is something vaguely troubling about this willingness to “teach those hippies they were wrong” and sweep Nixon’s transgressions under the trapdoor marked “he meant well”, but Frank Langella (in a career best performance) nails his persecution complex and draws humanity from his befuddled, final admission. Which is not to overlook Michael Sheen's superb turn as David Frost who while undoubtedly shrewd and charismatic comes across almost as big an enigma as his presidential quarry. As Nixon himself forlornly admits, each may have been ideally suited to the other's job.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3269 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: