Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Frost/Nixon » User review


2008 Film adaptation of the stageplay and famous interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon

< read all 13 reviews

Movie Review: Frost/Nixon

  • Dec 16, 2008
  • by

A better title for "Frost/Nixon" would be to replace the slash with a "vs.," to emphasize how director Ron Howard's latest generates exciting tension through a battle of the wits. 


Set in 1977, the film chronicles how British television personality David Frost who in 1977 had the rare opportunity to interview and confront former president Richard Nixon on his abuse of governmental power without a public apology.  Frost sought to push his fame to new heights, while Nixon hoped to rebuild his disgraced image to run for office in the future and earn an easy $600,000. 


Their stories of arranging the interview, strategizing their points and ultimately going toe-to-toe on camera is a surprisingly sharp, funny and gripping film adaptation written by Peter Morgan, who also authored the hit play.  What results is a Hollywood rarity: a compelling all-talk character drama, with no special effects other than a few 70s hair styles and side burns.


The two leads from the theatrical production reprise their roles, including the great Frank Langella who won a Tony as the manipulative, long-winded Nixon.  Langella disappears into character and displays remarkable wit by creating a villain both charismatic and vicious.  Nixon seeks what draws most people to TV: fame, money and the chance to tell his story the way he sees it.   However beneath his tough exterior lies a battered soul weighed down by years of denial and loneliness in defending his scarred reputation. 


Yes, Langella should receive an Oscar nomination, but even more dynamic is his counterpart played by Michael Sheen, previously seen as Tony Blair in "The Queen," as the smooth, stylish Frost.  Once rejected from American television, Frost originally wanted to interview Nixon to boost his viewership in hopes of furthering his success in London and Australia because, as he arrogantly states, "success in America is unlike anything else."  


But the costly price tag of the interview digs into his wallet and later his ego.  Advertisers leave him when word gets around that during the first of his four interviews with the former president he could not penetrate Nixon's intellectual armor.  Frost's mental state dwindles until a late-night phone call from a drunken Nixon clarifies his goal: to milk an apology from Nixon that Americans never received.  Sheen's eyes communicate Frost's troubled soul, exposing inner anxiety and fear beneath his toothy smile as his savings, credibility and career are all on the line. 


Matthew Macfadyen plays Frost's supportive colleague alongside journalists played by Oliver Platt and a rousing Sam Rockwell as researchers hired to takedown Nixon.  And for a little sex appeal and class, Rebecca Hall perfectly serves as Frost's womanly support. 


On Nixon's team, Kevin Bacon brings his usual tough, militant presence as Nixon's top advisor.  Toby Jones also has a hilarious supporting role as Nixon's agent, even if his East Coast accent is a little rough around the edges. 


Cinematographer Salvatore Totino gives the film a crisp, glossy feel and expertly uses many close-up shots to capture the nuances of each character.  The great composer Hans Zimmer, last heard in "The Dark Knight," again demonstrates how he can bolster a film's drama with a few well-placed orchestral flourishes.  Top credit goes to Howard who, in making one of his personal bests, connects all of the film's great elements to form a powerful cinematic experience where verbal sparring creates more suspense and tension than an action blockbuster.  


3.5 out of 4 stars


By Eric Horwitz



What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
February 16, 2009
I was working nights at the time and didn't catch the entire series so I can't soeak to that. It may well have been moved to the end for dramatic effect though. On the other hand one can easily imagine Nixon wanting to put it off for as long as possible too.
February 16, 2009
Interesting comment, I wasn't familiar with the event before the movie which I was sure was fictionalized. I hear they that the famous Watergate debate was actually in the middle of the interview series, but in the film it's at the end for dramatic effect.
February 16, 2009
I did manage to catch this in the theaters before it closed and I'm glad I did since there's nothing like having that big screen experience when you're dealing with larger than life characters. Langella's Nixon quickly became natural and wasn't at all distracting. If anything Sheen was the distraction for me because he bore little resemblence to Frost physically or vocally-- but that too evaporated after a few minutes. AS I recall the event, Nxon hardly confessed to anything. And Frost spent most of his time arguing a legal definition with him that Nixon wouldn't give in on and Frost didn't seem to understand. Nixon maintained that he did not conspire with anyone because he had no INTENT to conspire which Nixon said was necessary under the law. Frost didn't get it and they went around and around.
February 01, 2009
It wasn't that minor an event; A president virtually forced from office by a scandal and then despite his best efforts all but confesses in front of a worldwide television audience! But now that you menetion it, there is something Conneryish about that voice--that's what's been bothering me about it. I just couldn't put my finger on it! I'll check that review out.
February 01, 2009
to Queenbflix, I agree Langella's performance is a bit over-the-top. When he first spoke he reminded me of Sean Connery, but then you become invested in the character and it works. Sheen is brilliant and should have been nominated for supporting actor. If you get a chance, check out NY Times critic A. O. Scott's commentary on the film, how it monumentalizes a relatively minor historic moment. I can see that point, but it's such an invigorating film who cares if the story is blown-up for dramatic reasons...it's fun to watch!
February 01, 2009
I'm hoping to catch this one monday. Langella's Nixon impersonation is a bit of a turn-off, I think he throws his voice far too low, and for those of us who remember David Frost Michael Sheen seems an odd choice. I suppose I'll get over all that within the first 10 minutes though. I'll always think of Frost the way Peter Cook did after Frost stole the tv show THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS out from under Cook--"the Bubonic Plaguerist".(sic)
December 18, 2008
Thanks for posting this! The film seems pretty interesting. Now I actually have to get around to seeing it!
More Frost/Nixon reviews
review by . May 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I went into Frost/Nixon expecting to see a political character drama which explored the more sensitive side of disgraced former President Richard Nixon. But Ron Howard's acclaimed movie isn't like that at all. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you. It gives us a hero to root for and an evil Cobra Kai villain to throw our empty pop cans at. The light and dark warriors are established from the very beginning of the movie, and there is very little if anything done to remove Richard Nixon the …
review by . April 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Clever entertainment, with one of those wonderful, political non-apologetic apologies for a climax
Entertainment, Frost/Nixon is; history, of course, it's not. (But then who expects history from the movies?)       David Frost, if he doesn't hate Michael Sheen's amusing parody of himself, should. Sheen's Frost is a young man in love with the excitement and high life of being a television celebrity, as eager and quick as a chipmunk and as shallow as a plate.       The portrayal of Richard Nixon, however, is misleading. For the purposes …
review by . February 23, 2009
Frost/Nixon Poster
  I'm now finishing this review post-oscars and I do have to say that Frost/Nixon got screwed a little bit. I could be wrong, but I don't think it won one Oscar. Ron Howard did such a wonderful job with this film just for the fact that he took something from the stage and put it to screen so I don't think this film got all the recognition it deserved.    Despite the fact that I wasn't around during the Nixon Administration or when the events of this film took place, …
review by . May 19, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
As historical fiction, this film is wonderful. I'm a history buff and I love seeing these critical moments in history dramatized. However, audiences that normally would never watch a documentary about Watergate can enjoy this film. The Nixon/Frost interviews are not the obvious choice for a historical drama about Nixon (the Watergate scandal itself seems the more obvious choice, as in "All the President's Men"). Yet, this film makes the run-up to the interview and the interview itself as dramatic …
review by . May 15, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Supporting cast      Cons: Very dull storyline      The Bottom Line: Even if you are a Nixon/Watergate buff, this isn't required watching.  If you are such a buff, maybe good for a rainy day.  Otherwise, find another bio-pic.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. The worst plays are more intimate than great movies.  Sitting in the audience watching live actors treading …
review by . April 26, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
FROST/NIXON is one of the most successful screen adaptations of a play yet made. Perhaps that is due in part to the fact that the popular stage play by Peter Morgan was revised for the screen by the playwright, but it is also to the credit of director Ron Howard who managed to suffuse the 'play as movie' with such atmosphere and feeling of spontaneity that the rather long movie seems to whisk by more rapidly than history!    Everyone knows of the infamous David Frost interview …
review by . April 14, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Adapted from the fairly successful stage play, FROST/NIXON is a fictionalized account of the interview process and sessions that took place between world media darling David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) in 1977. The film follows Frost as he seeks to get back into the big time (television in America) by gaining an exclusive set of interviews with Nixon to be broadcast on network television. Nixon has been living in relative seclusion since resigning from …
review by . April 30, 2009
This detailed recreation of David Frost's 1977 interviews with President Nixon is surprisingly engaging. The movie takes us back to a time when Presidents didn't pop up on every channel on a daily basis as they do now. Convincing Nixon to be interviewed following the Watergate scandal was quite a coup, even though Frost had a hard time selling it to networks and sponsors.     Michael Sheen (The Queen) portrays Frost as a confident, ambitious journalist and playboy. Frank Langella …
review by . April 11, 2009
What a mightily enjoyable film.     Frank Langella renders Richard Nixon as slower, older and heftier than he really was; somewhere between a punch drunk prize fighter and a waning silverbacked gorilla, snorting and puffing at the attentions of a glad-handing young dilettante. Michael Sheen plays that glad-handing dilettante, British talk show host David Frost in truth a little unevenly: at times caricaturing his bouffant mincing drawl like an effete Austin Powers, at times a …
review by . December 10, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
In March of 1977, British television personality David Frost interviewed former President of the United States Richard Nixon in a series of four ninety-minute installments. On the basis of the film that recreates these interviews, Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon," I wish I had been around to see them when they originally aired. Partly, it has to do with the fact that they revealed a great deal about Nixon, and I'm not merely referring to historical facts; his on-camera mannerisms spoke volumes about him, …
About the reviewer
Eric Horwitz ()
Ranked #243
Ciao!     My world in a nutshell: Born in the humble beach town of Ventura, CA I went to UCLA with ambitions to pursue journalism and film. I studied literature and picked up Italian … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


Sounds like a good match: a historical drama from the author ofThe Queen, but with an American subject in the generational wheelhouse of director Ron Howard. And so Peter Morgan's Tony-winning play morphs into a Hollywood movie under the wing of theApollo 13guy. Morgan's subject is a curious moment of post-Watergate shakeout: British TV host David Frost's long-form interviews with ex-President Richard Nixon, conducted in 1977. It was a big ratings success at the time, justifying the somewhat controversial decision to cut an enormous check for Nixon's services. The movie adds a mockumentary note to the otherwise straightforward style, having direct-to-camera addresses from various aides to Frost and Nixon (played by the likes of Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, and Kevin Bacon); these basically tell us things we already glean from the rest of the movie, adding unnecessary melodrama and upping the stakes. In this curious scheme, the success of Frost's career, which could bellyflop if he doesn't get something worthwhile out of the cagey, long-winded Nixon, is given somewhat more weight than the actual revelations of the interviews. Even with these questionable storytelling decisions, there's still the spectacle of two actors going at it hammer and tongs, and on that level the movie offers some heat. Michael Sheen, who played Tony Blair not only inThe Queenbut also in another Morgan-scripted project,The Deal, is adept at catching David Frost's ...
view wiki


Director: Ron Howard
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Peter Morgan
DVD Release Date: April 21, 2009
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
First to Review
© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since