Neither the title nor the subject matter prepares you for the pure fun of Frost/Nixon. Ron Howard’s movie is based on Peter Morgan’s play, which was based on the 1977 television interviews between British journalist David Frost and the disgraced former president Richard Nixon. You expect something dry, historical and probably contrived. But you get a delicious contest of wits, brilliant acting and a surprisingly gripping narrative.
The premise of Morgan’s play is that Frost and Nixon desperately needed each other when they sat for a series of in-depth interviews three years after Nixon’s resignation. Frost was deemed a lightweight with a Vaseline smile, and bet his future career (and his own money) on a blockbuster television special. Nixon wanted rehabilitation, and gambled that Frost would lob him softballs.
As Nixon, Frank Langella is perfection. The character is generated from the inside out, not predicated on surface imitation or caricature. The writing is so good, the acting so powerful, that the film goes well beyond the courtroom drama into the territory of the classic history play. It isn’t Shakespeare, but it is drama at a level one doesn’t often get in the movies.
The Washington Post
‘a spellbinding thriller’
‘a movie laced with tension, stinging wit and potent human drama’
Nominated for five Academy Awards® including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay