A Review of Ron Howard’s "Frost/Nixon"

David Frost (right, Michael Sheen) is challenged to a "duel" by Richard Nixon (left, Frank Langella)

Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon leaves the consummate movie enthusiast little to not like. In 122 minutes, Howard recreates an epically captivating series of interviews between British television personality David Frost, and then-former President Richard Nixon. The interviews, which were based on the real ones, show protagonist David Frost’s desperate struggle to give Richard Nixon, “the trial he never had.” Howard portrays the people Frost chooses to help him research, like Jakes Reston Jr. played by Sam Rockwell, and Bob Zelnick played by Oliver Platt, as not having an easy time working with Frost. This adds some amount of struggle to the film.

The characters are what make the movie. There is little action in the movie; it plays out more like a docudrama piece. However, for a student of American political history, there is nothing better than watching Frank Langella’s portrayal of Richard M. Nixon. Langella gets into character, and shows the true essence of what historians have said about Richard Nixon: he was a paranoid man who thought nobody liked him and was obsessed with holding the power of the Presidency. Langella hits all of these points with true accuracy. His “opponent” in the interviews, actor Michael Sheen played by David Frost, also does a great job. Sheen is able to show the eccentric womanizing side of the real David Frost, while also portraying the intense amount of pressure Frost was under to make these interviews a huge success.

While

the characters make the movie what it is, the direction of Ron Howard should not be understated. Howard often cuts to his characters doing mini-narrations in a kind-of-interview format which helps viewers see not only the characters’ personalities, but the true essence of the film, its drama. There are some witty points in the movie as well. Little music. And, just in case one was going to ask, there is a beautiful female supporting actor, the love interest of David Frost he meets in the film, Caroline Cushing played by Rebecca Hall. No film is complete without such a subtext. Frost/Nixon is truly a great film by Ron Howard, and it is one viewers should not miss.

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