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December 24, 2008 > Movie Review: Frost/Nixon

Movie Review: Frost/Nixon

By Mona Shah

The plot is pretty straight forward. David Frost, a toothy British talk show host, travels to the States to conduct an against-all-odds interview with President Nixon after his resignation, giving him a trial the American people feel he deserves. For three years after being forced from office Nixon remained silent. But in the summer of 1977, the steely, former commander-in-chief agreed to sit for one all-inclusive interview to confront the questions of his time in office and the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency. Nixon surprised everyone by selecting Frost as his televised confessor, intending to easily outfox the breezy British showman and secure a place in the hearts and minds of Americans.

Likewise, Frost's team harbored doubts about Nixon's ability to hold his own. But as the cameras rolled, a charged battle of wits was the result. Would Nixon evade questions of his role in one of the nation's greatest disgraces? Or would Frost confound critics and bravely demand accountability from the man who had built a career from stonewalling? Over the course of their encounter, each man would reveal his own insecurities, ego and reserves of dignity ultimately setting aside posturing in a stunning display of unvarnished truth.

Frost/Nixon not only re-creates the on-air interview, but the weeks of around-the-world, behind-the-scenes maneuvers between the two men and their camps as negotiations were concluded, deals were made and secrets revealed.

The narrative is pretty straightforward, the performances and dialogue are both top notch and the story moves along quickly. As the film progresses, viewers become accustomed to Frank Langella's portrayal of Nixon with his deep voice and delivery style, making the performance his own.

Peter Morgan's screenplay does an excellent job of introducing both characters, placing them in proper context, establishing the stakes and pretenses leading up to their eventual face-off, an interview with implications that will change the lives of both men. The debate is intense, with shifting dynamics that eventually reach a powerful conclusion.

Rated: R
Runtime: 2 hours 2 mins.

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