For some, any retelling of Richard Nixon's legendary armchair battle with the talk show host David Frost will be too tempting a prospect to miss.
For some, any retelling of Richard Nixon's legendary armchair battle with the talk show host David Frost will be too tempting a prospect to miss. But for many others, Watergate, Vietnam and the venality of the Nixon administration will be either a distant memory or a topic of little interest. Could a drama about a set of 1977 television interviews really keep a movie audience gripped for two hours? Absolutely. Thanks to the director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) and the writer Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland), Frost/Nixon is perhaps the greatest underdog story since Sylvester Stallone entered the ring with Rocky. It stars the chameleonic Michael Sheen as David Frost, who manages to land the interview of his life with the disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). But the presenter quickly finds himself out if his depth and having to reach into his own pockets to lure Nixon in front of the camera. Frost also becomes the subject of ridicule by Washington's journalistic elite, who fear that Nixon will attempt the unthinkable: use the interviews to exonerate himself. Things don't get any better once taping begins, with the political heavyweight ducking every punch that Frost throws. But the talk show host still has one advantage: he understands television. Langella received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the hulking Nixon, and it is an excellent performance. Sheen gives an equally impressive and dramatic turn, which moves between targeted caricature, comedy and deeply moving drama.