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Phil Mercer

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Frost / Nixon (Cert 15)


Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Peter Morgan
Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Matthew Macfadyen, Toby Jones, Andy Milder, Rebecca Hall
Music by Hans Zimmer

Sir David Frost is such an institution that you can forget that his career had to begin somewhere and at some point he was a naive and eager pup broadcaster. In fact this film picks him up when he has already had the success in the UK of The Frost Report and various other entertainment shows as well as a chat show in Oz and an abortive series in the states.

For Nixon, this is the moment of his downfall and the addition of the word Watergate to the language of politics and journalism. We see him after resigning and as is helicoptered away from the white house to a kind of exile in California.

He does not take his forced retirement well and is looking for ways of setting the record straight and getting back in to the game of politics. Strangely the major US networks aren't that interested in hearing his message, but its at about this time that David Frost has a mad idea. He would interview Nixon.

With help from his friend and producer John Birt (Matthew MacFadyen) - who will end up as a DG for the BBC! - he begins a slow waltz with the Agent for Nixon and after cash has changed hands (a small sum of $200,000) the process begins.

Nixon, the old political war horse prepares himself for what he thinks is going to be a walk over. Frost, trying to hold down the finances of this multimillion pound project as well as live up to the expectations of a nation wanting to see Nixon brought to his knees.

The result of this incredible punt is well known and will forever be Frosts greatest acheivement.

Martin Sheen as David Frost manages to get across his manorisms and distinctive voice and Frank Langella as Nixon pulls off a real likeness, you can see why both were chosen for the roles (Right from the original stage play).

We never see any real footage from the programmes and the style is like a documentary put together in the early eightees. There is a lighter side, with some of the dialogue really sparkling. As to its accuracy. I guess its in the same league as The Queen not least as its written by the same person. Will we really know what was said, probably not, but they certainly make what is in effect a story of making an interview, compelling watching.

Martin Sheen once again proving he is great at the biographical roles.

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