Friday, December 12, 2008

Frost / Nixon gets my vote...

I know what you're all thinking, just how exciting can a film about an interview with the 37th President of the United Sates of America, Richard Nixon, by British talk show host David Frost be, right? 

It doesn't have high speed car chases, eye-popping explosions or dazzling CGI monsters, but what it does have is a real life historic story, wit, electrifying performances and an authentic 70's feel.  Political bore it is not and Ron Howard's new movie certainly gets my vote as a great cinematic experience!
Frost / Nixon movie billboard
The background to the plot is that Richard Nixon was in office from 1969 to 9th August 1974 and he was the only U.S. President to ever resign, which was for his involvement in the infamous Watergate scandal.

Upon his resignation, TV personality David Frost requested an interview via Nixon's agent. There seemed a very slim chance that an almost unknown, non-American to boot, would be deemed appropriate to interview the ex-President, but Nixon is portrayed as a bit of a money grabber in the movie (which I suppose is in-keeping with his corrupt activities) and the lure of more money than any other network is prepared to offer wins Frost the chance to question Nixon face to face for television. 
Frost / Nixon UK movie poster
Almost the exact opposite to Nixon's 'greed' we have Frost who went out on a limb to finance the interview and pay for the rights and production. When pitching his concept to the American TV networks they wouldn't touch his proposal, so he begged and borrowed from friends and when that wasn't enough, went back and asked for more.  He admitted to Nixon that the whole endeavour cost around two million dollars, and at one stage during the interviews themselves we discover he only has 30% of the necessary funding.
  
Although I have to say he did stay with his colleagues at the plush Beverly Hilton Hotel, dined at famous restaurants and travelled First Class on flights, so I can't feel too sorry for his lifestyle, but it is interesting to see mid-70'S L.A. recreated and what flying on planes in the past looked like - being able to smoke for one.

Not sure if all these events in the film are true or whether they have been exaggerated to provide dramatic effect, but I found the whole movie compelling viewing. 

There's just superb acting all around, with real tension and sizzling dialogue. Fellow Welsh man Michael Sheen is amazing as David Frost and Frank Langella seems perfectly cast as President Richard Nixon.
Frost / Nixon film poster
The verbal sparring between the two men culminates with an emotionally charged scene in their final interview and I felt genuinely moved by Nixon's eventual breakdown and confession.  

Some people may say it paints Nixon too favourably.  I don't know my American history so maybe I don't truly understand the whole context of what went on, but I don't feel that this film is a love affair with the former President, but that's just my opinion.

I truly enjoyed this film and award Frost /Nixon four **** stars.

After a grand romantic adventure with Australia and now a compelling real life tale with Frost / Nixon, my next cinema visit has a lot to measure up to...

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