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Starring: Michael Sheen, Frank Langella, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Toby Jones, Matthew Macfayden, Oliver Platt

Director: Ron Howard

Screenplay: Peter Morgan

Cinematography: Salvatore Totini

Original Score: Hans Zimmer

Running Time: 122 Mins.

Hello, good evening and welcome…to what is sure to be one of THE best films of the year, following the hugely original and breathless experience of Slumdog Millionaire I could never have expected another such experience, another filmic ride as exhilerating that gripped from its opening seconds and never let go, leaving you longing for more. In the same way that any experience should if it be that good.

There are three fundamental factors in play that make Frost/Nixon the film it is, two superb performances, one from an up and coming star and one from an old master, and one of Hollywoods best directors working at the top of his game, for Ron Howard that is quite some feat. The man that brought us Cinderella Man, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and  Ransom, here makes a subject matter that could well have been very pedestrian and maybe even dull into what is sure to not only be one of this years most electrifying films but of the last decades.

Little time is dedicated to the actual interviews themselves, but then again why would they? Why totally repeat something you can watch in its original source, no this is all about the build up, the work and dedication that goes into a media production, and much less a study of the power of a disgraced President and much more a study of the over-whelming power of the media itself. Never has the Media seemed such a omnipressant force in the world to me and in this film alone I (as will you) come to realise how key the media and events set of by it shape our world, our thoughts and how it can be twisted in such a way that we form our opinions based upon what we are and arent shown.

Working this tool very ably is Sheen’s Frost, painted as a somewhat womanising chancer, Sheen has been robbed of a nomination at the Academy Awards this year for so nuanced is his performance that you fully invest yourself in his plight and feel like cheering him on in his battle of words with Nixon. For a battle is what emerges between these two behemoths, under estimating Frost from the off Nixon slowly meets his match in the interviews in what can only be likened to a boxing match, one that is as heart stopping as any in Cinderella Man at that.

But if Sheen is the magnetic likeable person he is nothing compared to the lumbering President Nixon that Langella gives us, portarayed less as a monster and more of a man with very misguided ideas whom believe he was always in the right, he has a speech to rival any I have ever seen bringing to mind Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” turn in A Few Good Men. Often framed walking through the shadows Nixon seems almost monstrous in posture but somehow gentle of voice, until he blows, and boy does he blow, with one fictionalised (but pivotal to the film) phone call to Frost late at night that acts as a masterclass in acting, quite some feat considering they aren’t even face to face!

Surrounding Sheen and Langella and a troupe of quality support players, none really given much to sink their teeth into but they give what they have all the character they can with Kevin Bacon’s subtle turn as Nixon’s most loyal follower the standout, and an all too brief showing from Toby Jones as hygiene freak and spin doctor ‘Swifty’ Lazaar. This is the most minor of quibbles as whenever Frost and Nixon are of screen you yearn for their return, slowly building to their sparring of words each time, but far from being heavy the script (by The Queens Peter Morgan) is chock full of whitty asides. Making moments that whilst real and in keeping with characterisations of key players, bring real humour, in turn making both Frost and Nixon more than just a sum of their parts, humour is key cutting through scenes but never demeaning or taking away from their drama, witness Nixon’s issues with Frost’s Italian shoes that he see’s as somewhat ‘feminine’.

And composing this perfect blend is Howard’s direction, never flashy but always ingenious, framing shots in the most effective ways every time, if he can pull of something half this good for Angels & Demons we are in for a treat!

 VERDICT

Frost/Nixon, Ron Howards greatest and most gripping film to date only serves to enhance what are surely to be two of the years most electrifying performances. Not only a study in character and people, but more significantly in the power of the media in the world as a whole, watch it, learn from it and most importantly be entertained!  

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