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Frost/Nixon

The twentieth century forever changed the hallowed institutions of journalism and politics.  With the increasing amount of technology at their disposal, both began a marriage of convenience still existing today.  Political orators discovered fresh ways to spin their beliefs whilst journalists went behind the scenes to uncover the truth behind the sound bytes.  One was Englishman David Frost, who in 1977 conducted a series of televised interviews with disgraced U.S. President Richard Nixon.  What transpired was a battle for public opinion where both men had everything to gain by staring down the barrel of the lens.
Known as a lightweight entertainer, David Frost (Michael Sheen) wanted to prove he could do more than entertain the punters.  When President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) resigned from office after the Watergate scandal, he saw his chance.  Eager to interview Nixon, Frost assembled a winning research team determined to elicit an apology from the tarnished Commander in Chief.  Nixon in turn was keen to correct the many mis-conceptions of his Presidency and of the six figure sum the interview bought.  Sparring together in a duel of words the interviews became an insightful study into the dangers genuine power can bring.
Directed with a sense of theatrical drama by Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon is essentially about needing redemption.  Forever trapped in a scandal of his own design, Nixon desperately wanted to salvage his reputation whilst Frost set out establishing a new one.  Using the probing analysis both their professions bring, it’s interesting watching the pair switch from being the giver and receiver of information.  For his many flaws, Nixon still knew how to use his natural charisma to buttress situations to his own advantage with Frost slowly learning how to out-manoeuvre one of the decade’s canniest operators.
Using an excellent script from Peter Morgan based on his stage play, the film becomes the most accomplished of Howard’s work.  Although rightly basing most of the action on the riveting interviews, Howard perfectly sets the scene in the lead up to the anticipated event.  Exploring the back-room dealings with their various minders, this shows the jockeying that went on to ensure their men had an even chance at ‘winning’ the contest of egos.  Sheen and Langella head a wonderful ensemble projecting that vital aura of tension even though viewers would already know the outcome.  Like others who have portrayed him, Langella captures the abiding sadness enveloping Nixon with his regret at never receiving the respect he felt he deserved staying with him until his final days.
With this current decade seeing journalists entering political life and vice versa, the fine line between them have become blurred. Frost/Nixon looks at the beginning of media’s formative steps towards assimilating with the very institution they’re meant to observe.  A high calibre drama with fine performances, Frost/Nixon is an engrossing portrait of two men risking everything in order to create their own permanent legacy.
Rating out of 10:  8

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