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:: Frost/Nixon

Films that boast political intrigue rarely live to the intrigue part of the claim and instead have the audience lapsing into some kind of coma midway through the film. This is not the case for director, Ron Howard’s latest film, ‘Frost/Nixon’.

While the idea of a film based on what was going on behind-the-scenes of broadcaster David Frost (Michael Sheen) and President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) shortly after Nixon’s dismissal doesn’t sound like it could produce a gripping and suspenseful film, that is certainly what it does.

The world laughed when Frost pitched the idea of doing a series of four interviews with Nixon. Frost was the clown-talk show host. He was popular in Britain and Australia but his only attempt at a break into the United States was a failure. The world wanted to hear Nixon come clean but they doubted a playboy host who normally interviewed popstars and models would be the right man for the job, instead of a hard-hitting interview they would get a fluff-piece. Frost surrounded himself with researchers (journalists) who were out to get Nixon, but not even they believed Frost was the man for the job. Networks turned away from the idea so Frost borrowed two million dollars to do the interviews meaning failure would mean both professional and personal ruin. To make matters worse Nixon viewed the interviews as a boxing match and with his trusty chief-of-staff and protector, Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon) working like a boxing trainer it seemed Nixon had the upperhand.

Ron Howard does an expert job at making this story interesting for the audience. He expertly uses Peter Morgan’s screenplay to call upon the audience’s human nature and divide this into a good guy versus the bad guy which only goes even further to enhance the boxing subtext that bubbles along through this film. Frost is portrayed as the ‘battler’, the underdog that is set up to fail in a big way. While Nixon is set up as pure filth. Someone who deceived his country and is now threatening the ‘good guy’… literally. It is spelt out for the audience that they are supposed to like Frost and hate Nixon… it’s simple but it works remarkably well.

Howard even uses the introduction of Frost’s romantic interest, Caroline Cushing (Rebecca Hall) as a threat to Frost. He captures enough interesting looks from Nixon towards Cushing to set up the possibility that she is working for him.

Acting wise ‘Frost/Nixon’ also stands up remarkably well. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen shine in their roles and it wouldn’t be out of place to mention Langella’s name in the same sentence as an Oscar. Likewise Kevin Bacon shows the world his full acting range and it’s good to see him in a top quality film and not rotting away in some awful B-Grade piece of rubbish. Sam Rockwell also laps up his role and shows why he is a Hollywood star on the rise.

‘Frost/Nixen’ is a genuine ‘suspense drama’ that will keep the audience guessing while thrilling them with a excellent script and brilliant acting performances. So good is the film that you don’t even notice its two hour running time…now that is a mark of great film.