New DVD: Frost/Nixon (15)By Anna Roberts
June 18, 2009
Michael Sheen, Frank Langella, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Rebecca Hall
Watergate was 20th century America’s biggest political scandal. The US is rightly ashamed of what happened and how its president behaved.
But – as demonstrated in Frost/Nixon – it was a Brit who elicited the apology his country so desperately wanted from him.
Although a knowledge and understanding of American history is not essential to enjoy Nixon, it does help – read up on Watergate if you are too young to have lived through it.
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Brit talk show host David Frost is brilliant with middle-of-the-road chat shows and minor celebrities. So it comes as quite as a surprise to his friends that he wants to interview man of the moment Nixon.
Frost stumps up his own cash to interview Nixon, who – owing to his interviewer’s history matter – expects an easy ride.
The pressure is doubly on because Frost has actually been unable to syndicate the interviews to any TV station.
After months of preparation and, with Frost living up to his party boy image, the interview is ready to begin.
But it starts with disaster: Nixon’s cosy anecdotes of times he spent with Kissinger are boring.
He’s also acting in a way which will get the American public to fall in love with him again. Frost’s ‘soft’ interviewing technique is a large part of the problem, much to the consternation of his colleagues.
It is not until a few days before the last interview, following a surprise phone call from Nixon, that Frost begins to take the venture seriously.
With the help of his more politically savvy colleagues he manages to dig out dirt on Nixon and take him on hard.
It ends with Nixon admitting he made a mistake.
Frost/Nixon is as much about the power of TV as Nixon’s downfall. It cleverly interweaves the interviews with documentary-style filming.
Credit must go to Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon. The pair work brilliantly and hold the film together. Frost/Nixon steers away from being a dry, political piece and becomes a brilliant piece of cinema.