The great thing about American democracy is that we’ve got an equal chance of electing a total douchebag as we do a competent leader as president. One such douchebag was Richard M. Nixon, or tricky Dick, who was elected on the promise of a swift end to Vietnam. Instead, we got more years of conflict, Cambodia, and finally Watergate. When Americans finally had their chance to make tricky Dick accountable for his crimes, he made an unprescedented move and resigned the presidency, with Ford swiftly pardoning his crimes. He got away with it.
Enter David Frost, a British talk show host that threw down the money for a lengthy series of interviews with the ex-president. His plan: to make tricky Dick finally admit to his crimes, to give America the trial she needed. Frost/Nixon is the story of these interviews.
Frank Langella is most certainly the star of this show, turning one of his best performances as tricky Dick himself. He doesn’t really look like the man, but tricky Dick was such a larger than life character, it would be hard to find someone more physically similar. Instead, Langella embodies his mannerisms, and has totally got the voice down. Michael Sheen holds up his half, but the character of Frost pretty much just reacts to everyone the whole movie. Still a very strong performance. The supporting cast is also very good, it was nice to see Oliver Platt again.
I’d like to give props to the direction of Ron Howard, as this film has a great feel to it. He is able to create lots of tense situations, which is incredible considering how boring most of the Frost/Nixon interviews are in real life. Really a top-notch effort. My biggest problem was his choice to insert documentary-style talking heads, which I don’t think the film really needed. I think the film would have been stronger if we could interpret what happened on our own, instead of having the characters tell us.
But that is a minor complaint about a surprsingly great film. I doubt in real life the Frost/Nixon interviews were as big a deal as they were presented in this film, but I always allow dramatic liscense like that when it is to the benefit of the film. What we have here is simply enjoyable filmmaking. People want to see tricky Dick sweat it out, and admit what he did was wrong. This film gives it to us. What more could you ask for?