Saw this bad-ass movie over the long weekend and all I can say is…wow, Ron Howard rocks, baby! As a director I have loathed (“The Da Vinci Code”) just as many of his movies as I have loved (“Cinderella Man”) over the years, but with “Frost/Nixon” it’s like Opie has finally found his voice as a serious director. And man, what a thrill!
I have to admit, as much as I was looking forward to seeing this movie, I was also a little skeptical that a film based on a Tony-winning play about a legendary television interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon would be, I dunno, kind of stagy and plodding. But, man alive, was I wrong!
In opening up his play for the movie, writer Peter Morgan, as he did so beautifully with “The Queen” and “The Last King of Scotland” has made politics absolutely riveting. And when you couple his crackerjack script with Howard’s whiz-bang directing and the towering performances of Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost, well…how can you lose?
Seriously, in lesser hands, “Frost/Nixon” could have been a tedious series of close-ups and cramped interiors, but this movie could not be more cinematic. Big, open, sweeping, the camera is everywhere all at once and with Hans Zimmer’s incredible, slow-build score leading the way, the film has a sense of drama that is just breathtaking.
And the fact that the production filmed in many of the real-life locales only ads to the gravitas. I can only imagine how much that helped the actors bury themselves in their roles, because bury they do, amigos!
Reprising his Tony-winning performance, Langella doesn’t exactly look like Nixon, but man, he has the strange tics and sad sack mannerisms down pat. And Tony-nominee Sheen — who, if you ask me, was robbed of a Supporting Oscar nod for his stellar turn as Tony Blaire in “The Queen” — more than holds his own as a man finding his voice as a journalist during the course of the interviews.
But perhaps even more exciting than the leads are the amazing supporting performances by Kevin Bacon as Nixon loyalist Jack Brennan, and Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt as Frost’s hard-working researchers, James Reston Jr. and Bob Zelnick, respectively.
All working at the top of their game, the three workhorse actors lend “Frost/Nixon” a boxing movie element that is entirely unexpected. And watching them quickly move in to clean up the figuriative blood when Frost and Nixon have finished a “round” before the camera is beyond awesome.
In fact, Howard structures the entire movie like one big showdown, and though it might sound a bit heavy-handed, it works like gangbusters. Yes, I said gangbusters…sorry, but it really is that good.
“Frost/Nixon” opens nationwide this weekend, so, check it out! And if you’re interested in seeing the real life “Frost/Nixon: Watergate Interviews” for yourself, they have just been re-released on DVD as well. Cool, huh? I can’t wait to see how they compare to the movie!