Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
Toby Jones (Swifty Lazar)
“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “The Mist,” “Finding Neverland”
Frank Langella (Richard Nixon)
“Superman Returns,” “The Ninth Gate,” “Dave”
Michael Sheen (David Frost)
“Kingdom of Heaven,” “Underworld,” “Blood Diamond”
Sam Rockwell (James Reston, Jr.)
“The Green Mile,” “Charlie's Angels,” “Matchstick Men”
Kevin Bacon (Jack Brennan)
“Mystic River,” “JFK,” “Sleepers”
Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Andy Milder, Kate Jennings Grant, Gabriel Jarret, Jim Meskimen, Patty McCormack, Geoffrey Blake, Clint Howard, Rance Howard, Gavin Grazer, Simon James, Eloy Casados, Jay White, Will Albert, Keith MacKechnie, Penny Moore, Janneke Arent, David Ross Paterson, Jennifer Hanley, Robert Pastoriza, Louie Mejia, Kevin P. Kearns, David Kelsey, James Ritz, Pete Rockwell, Ned Vaughn, Simone Kessell, Ben Pauley, Noah Craft, Taylor Singer, Kaine Bennett Charleston, Gregory H. Alpert, Kimberly Robin, Michelle Manhart, Steve Kehela, Anthony H. Acker, John Kerry, Jenn Gotzon, Googy Gress, Marc McClure, Joe Spano
“The Da Vinci Code,” “Cinderella Man,” “A Beautiful Mind”
|Producer||Imagine Entertainment, Relativity Media, Studio Canal (France), Working Title Films, Tim Bevan, William M. Connor, Eric Fellner, Brian Grazer, Todd Hallowell, Ron Howard, Kathleen McGill, Peter Morgan, Louisa Velis|
“400 million people were waiting for the truth.”
Richard Nixon was an iconic figure in the 1970’s, and his time as President of the United States was marked by scandal, cover up, and blatant abuse of power. Instead of facing trial or impeachment for his actions, Nixon resigned as President and received a full pardon from then President Gerald Ford. Nixon became known as “tricky Dick” because of his ability to manipulate conversations and provide plausible explanations for any action taken.
In 1977, British talk show host David Frost sat down for four 90 minute interviews with former President Nixon. These interviews were groundbreaking for several reasons. For one, it was the first televised interview of its kind, in the fact that it wasn’t bought by a network, but shot in syndication and then sold. More importantly, it was America’s chance to finally see their former leader at a place of vulnerability, a place where Nixon publicly showed remorse for his actions in the White House.
“Frost/Nixon” is a film by Ron Howard based on those 1977 interviews and the events leading to them. And while that may sound like a somewhat dry topic for a film, “Frost/Nixon” is easily one of the more suspenseful and thought-provoking films of 2008. The movie is more or less an intellectual boxing match, and as the two opponents trade verbal blows, the tension continues to mount toward a riveting climax. The film successfully depicts Nixon as a smart, cunning man who relishes the opportunity to showcase his wit and intelligence. It also depicts a man who is haunted by his past, and his hidden desire to rid himself of the burden of hiding the truth.
Almost as interesting as Nixon is the character of David Frost. A successful variety show host in England and Australia, Frost understands the power of television, and although he doesn’t have strong political leanings, he is drawn to the story of Richard Nixon due to his desire to be famous in the US. In fact, he is drawn so much to the story that he personally funds the interviews and risks losing everything for this remarkable chance to interview the President. As the film moves along, parallels are drawn between the motives of Frost and Nixon, and this provides an interesting dynamic between the two leads.
The movie is masterful, and it has the cast and crew to thank. The two main actors reprise their roles from the stage version of “Frost/Nixon”. Frank Langella admittedly looks nothing like Richard Nixon, but his portrayal of the former President is spot on. He embodies Nixon not only in voice, but also in his quirks, mannerisms, and movements. His performance has already garnered him some attention, and will no doubt lead to an Oscar® nomination. Not to be out-done is Michael Sheen (“The Queen”) as David Frost. Sheen does a great job bringing a human element to Frost, and his reactions to Nixon are priceless. The supporting cast is first rate, and includes such veterans as Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, and Sam Rockwell. Ron Howard is excellent behind the camera, building suspense at every turn.
If I have one complaint from a moviemaking standpoint, it’s the historical accuracy of “Frost/Nixon”. As a history teacher, I couldn’t help but notice that some liberties were taken with the story. The order of the interviews was changed to highlight one particular interview and build suspense. Also, a few fictional conversations between Frost and Nixon were added. While this added a great deal of gravitas, it still distracted me slightly during the film.
From a Christian viewing standpoint, the film is rated ‘R’ for a reason. Nixon was known for having a foul mouth, and that is shown in the film. There is strong language, including several profanities, but I felt as though the film makers did a good job of acknowledging the profane aspect of the story without glorifying it. Also, Frost is seen as somewhat of a womanizer, and is shown with various women in different stages of undress. Just like the language, this is shown in an appropriate manner, and the film doesn’t dwell on these attributes. The only completely unnecessary thing in the film is near the end, where there is a brief shot of a naked man seen from behind. It’s played for laughs, but it just wasn’t needed.
While the film isn’t for kids, it’s a solid option for adults going to the theater. It’s a smart, well-crafted, political thriller with a top notch cast. Ultimately redemptive, “Frost/Nixon” is as well made as any movie of 2008.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.