Frost/Nixon (2008)

“Frost/Nixon” is a well-directed, very well-written, extraordinarily well-acted film.

Michael Sheen delivers a very good performance, but Frank Langella delivers a transcendental one, an unforgettable performance as Richard Nixon. Every aspect of his performance, from even the most subtle vocal and physical cues, are so focused, so cohesive, so singularly bound towards such a powerful vision of the man Nixon was. You can feel that the script was originally written for theatre, as the film revolves almost entirely around the acting of Langella, and Sheen to a lesser extent.

I struggle to think of things to say, the film stands on its own so well, an a dramatisation of real-world events and people. It doesn’t beg for analysis, because it already operates with such clarity, purpose, and vision, and because the subject of the film has already been discussed to such great extent.

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Still, director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan do fantastic work in turning these non-fictions into a compelling film. The parallels drawn between Frost and Nixon, particularly in the powerful “midnight phone call” scene (as I understand, the lone complete fabrication of the film, drawing from personality traits known of the two men) powerfully contextualises the motivations behind both men, particularly Nixon, for the historic interviews. That deft bit of writing goes to Morgan. Structuring the film like a sports film (sometimes called “an intellectual ‘Rocky’“) was a deft move from Howard, and does wonders for the pacing of the film.

A great film, spearheaded by an even greater performance. I give it four cheeseburgers, and a pair of Italian shoes.

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