Plastered on the front of the post-release poster:
Ron Howard’s Finest Film Yet.
Um, No. Not even close. Ron Howard has had a very mixed career with his projects, and Frost/Nixon falls somewhere in the middle. Splash, Cocoon, and EDtv are all VASTLY superior. So the critic in this case, AP’s Christy Lemire, adds to the list of reasons why I write a movie blog.
Not that Frost/Nixon is a bad movie. It features a good and nuanced performance by Frank Langella as Nixon — I loved him in the excellent sci-fi/thriller The Box — though he doesn’t to me look much like the fallen president, or sound that close either. Michael Sheen as David Frost also does well, if it was the intent to show Frost always a bit befuddled, in over his head; an absolute lightweight compared to Nixon. He seemed familiar — and I found out why: besides having a generally familiar actorly countenance, he played Tony Blair in The Queen, a nice little movie which I saw way back 9 years ago in Portland.
The supporting performances are good enough too, but I could not help but think there’s a tiny hollow core at the center of the movie — or put it another way, it lacks heart; it lacks conviction. Additionally, the first third or so is a bit clumsy, and I was a tad bored throughout. Frost/Nixon never breaks into a gallop, so there’s not as much to sink your teeth into as you’d like.
Perhaps that’s because the story at hand is a good one, but not a great one. It reminded me of Citizenfour, the movie that is so highly overrated because critics conflated concept and intent with the actual story advanced on film. The clumsiness and tiny hollow core also brought this year’s Love & Mercy to mind.
The central dynamic at play is that of out-witted David Frost attempting to bring down the mighty Nixon, and generally failing — that is, until (semi-SPOILER ALERT!) Nixon finally gets his comeuppance. The problem is, Frost never emerges as a heavyweight who beats Nixon; rather, Nixon beats himself. Mildly recommended, mainly for the portrait of Nixon. 6/10