There have been some amazing movies released in 2008 looking to make it big during the awards season. Frost/Nixon is considered to be one of those movies, but will it be able to compete with the likes of Slumdog Millionare and Gran Torino? There is only so much you can do with certain historical topics. There is only so much of a story you can tell before you are just wasting time. The question is, can Frost/Nixon be a compelling movie for it's entire two hours, or will people lose interest before the credits roll?
Frost/Nixon centers around an Englishman named David Frost (Michael Sheen) who was a former noteworthy talk show host in the United States. His show was canceled after a few successful seasons, and now he has a show in a few shows in Australia. The movie starts on the day Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) resigns from his post as president. Frost is watching his farewell speech on TV in Australia, when his producer Jon Birt (Matthew Macfadyen) approaches him. Frost seems to have some sort of epiphany while staring at the television, and he declares to Birt that he would like a one on one interview with Richard Nixon. Frost and Birt call up Nixon's offices, and send an invitation for Nixon to meet with him, and they wait for an answer. Weeks later, Nixon's advisors are looking for any way to help his image, and they do not trust any of the big networks to give him a fair interview. While considering their options, they remember David Frost offered money for an interview. They don’t see frost as much of a threat, and believe Nixon can come out of the interview with some sympathy in his favor, but Nixon wants to make sure he comes out wealthy. Frost is asked to pay 600 grand. Frost accepts the offer even though he doesn't know if he can raise the change.
Frost and Birt find a crack team to help them prepare for the interviews, it consists of a Nixon specialized author named James Reston Jr. (Sam Rockwell) and a seasoned journalist named Bob Zelnick (Oliver Pratt), along with Frost's latest flame, Caroline Cushing (Rebecca Hall). Everyone knows that Nixon will not be easy to break down, but Frost is more worried about raising the money for the interview, and he seems to blow of his team every time they ask for his opinion. When the day of the first interview finally arrives, Frost is psychically tired and mentally not ready. The interview begins like a boxing match they go back and forth trading blows, and every time there is a break, advisors from each side give their party a pep talk. But Nixon is taking up the time babbling about past stories, and Frost is starting to lose face. On Nixon's side, his head advisor Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon) is there to protect Nixon if anything goes wrong. On Frost's side, his advisors don't think he is taking these interviews serious enough, and all along in the back of their minds they are thinking this fiasco could initially ruin their careers.
Frost/Nixon is two hours long, but the only parts needed in the movie are the initial scenes that set up the interview, and of course the interview itself. The scenes in the few days leading to the interview lack any suspenseful qualities, and to be honest if I was watching these parts on TV, I might have changed the channel. The second hour of the movie is much of an improvement. The last interview with Langella and Douglas will literally make your heart skip a beat, it is definitely what you come to see this movie for.
Ron Howard continues to get the best scripts for movies, and as always does a good job directing. Nixon is portrayed as a very regretful man who likes to listen to himself talk, but who wouldn't be regretful if they had to resign their presidency. Frost starts out overconfident, and continually takes on more than he can handle. It's takes him the entire movie to realize that Nixon is too much for him to handle, and he needs all the help he can find to take him on. Frost and Nixon are different in many ways, but they have one thing in common, each have both been reduced to ridicule and fallen from the top. They are looking for anyway to win their ever-longing fight for the limelight, but in the end only one can win.