james debate
james debate

Saturday 27 December 2008

Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Peter Morgan
Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen
Release date(s) December 5, 2008 [limited], January 9, 2009
Running time 122 minutes

Frost Nixon Film

Veteran director Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon is the film adaption of the stage production of the same name written by Peter Morgan, who also penned the screenplay for this film. The play was in London fairly recently at (what you all probably know by now is) my favorite Theatre the Donmar Warehouse, and it was pleasing to see the fantastic cast of the stage version recruited for this film, with Frank Langella as Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen as David Frost.

The subject of this tale is Richard Nixon, and the famous interviews he did with David Frost after he had resigned from the white house. Disgraced and with a reputation in tatters, Nixon sees an opportunity to rebuild his career and image by doing an interview with David Frost, a soft talk show host with a reputation as a playboy. The original interview is an iconic part of television history, and I'm glad to say the film definitely does it justice.

What follows is one of the finest duels in cinema, a compelling stew of mind games and delicate jousting between the inexperienced yet cocky brit Frost as he tries to pick apart a highly experienced operator in the ex president Nixon.

Howard is at the top of his game here as he builds the hype and tension like a championship boxing match, documenting the struggles of the underdog Frost in organizing and funding the interviews without any support or credibility and delivers one of his best movies in years.

He is backed up by two truly fantastic oscar worthy performances, with Langella giving us the best ever take on Richard Nixon, spot on with his mannerisms, speech and demeanor; but especially with Michael Sheen's Frost, which is absolutely perfect capturing the smarmy essence of Frost without doing a direct imitation of him, in my view Sheen gives us the best acting performance of the year, and it's even more impressive when you see Sheen in other things and realize how unlike his performance in this film he really is.

But one of the biggest stars of the film is Peter Morgan's script, which rather than presenting Nixon as the cartoon character that is so popular in the media these days, it shows him for what he really is; a criminal sure, a despicable person sure, but ultimately just an insecure, flawed and unstable individual who succumbed to his paranoia. It is a testament to the sharp writing here that one will actually end up walking away from the movie with a tinge of sympathy for this man rather than just contempt.

Masterful and hard to fault, Frost/Nixon is one of the best movies in a long time, and one of the best movies this year certainly. Possibly the best thing about this film is that it's presented in such a way as to be accessible and entertaining, even for people with little interest in politics

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