Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Simply put, Frost/Nixon is a truly good movie. Not blockbuster material, but a solid, good film that will stand scrutiny from all angles. One gets a sense of how far Ron Howard has come as a director in the capable way he handles such a heavy subject. Retellings of historical political drama-- fictionalized or otherwise-- tend to be dreary, unentertaining stuff, especially when presented in a faux documentary format, as in this movie. But not only does Howard effectively translate to film Peter Morgan's stage play about British TV host David Frost's landmark interview with deposed American president Richard Nixon, he also elicits great performances from his powerhouse cast, particularly from erstwhile unrecognized Frank Langella, who plays Nixon with a ferocity I never knew he possessed. More impressive than fellow Best Actor nominee Brad Pitt's restrained acting in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Langella's turn as the disgraced Nixon is magnetic, from his oh-so-subtle yet oh-so-eloquent facial expressions, to getting Nixon's rumbly, growly voice and signature mannerisms down pat without making them seem like a comic impersonation.

The only distraction in the movie for me was Kevin Bacon, who was cast as Nixon's loyal right-hand man Jack Brennan. Not that the fabulous Mr. Bacon didn't deliver (indeed, I believe he remains one of the most underappreciated actors of our time). He just seemed an incongruous fit for the role. On the contrary, I was delighted to see the prodigiously talented Sam Rockwell get some much-deserved screen time as author James Reston Jr., who in Howard's version of the tale behind Frost and Nixon's televised duel helped the former dig up dirt on the latter. Also, British hottie Matthew MacFadyen (of Pride and Prejudice fame), virtually unrecognizable as Frost's producer John Birt, was a welcome addition to the ensemble.

And it would be grossly unfair to review Frost/Nixon without making mention of Michael Sheen (not MARTIN Sheen, but the British dude who played Tony Blair from 2006's magnificent Helen Mirren-starrer The Queen). Sheen portrayed ambitious, cocky showboat David Frost with a certain vulnerability and lovability that kept me rooting for him in spite of Nixon's apparent intellectual superiority in their battle of wits. Well done, old chap.

Frost/Nixon is one of those serious "talking" movies that merits all the award nominations it has received, but barring any shockers, probably won't win anything major (though I reiterate that Langella totally kicked Pitt posterior, as fine a posterior as it may be). I was surprised that I enjoyed the movie as much as I did, and though it won't become a commercial hit (if they show it here in brain activity-averse Manila at all
), I highly recommend it to anyone who's a fan of political history, and good, solid film-making. I give it two Nixon V-for-victory signs, and four and a half stars.


At Wednesday, January 28, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matthew Macfadyen is NOT Scottish.

At Wednesday, January 28, 2009, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

My apologies for the honest mistake, and thanks for pointing it out. The necessary correction has been made.


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