Frost/Nixon (2008)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Frost/Nixon is weighty and eloquent; a cross between a boxing match and a ballet with Oscar worthy performances.

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Movie Info

Hollywood heavyweight Ron Howard adapts playwright Peter Morgan's West End hit for the silver screen with this feature focusing on the 1977 television interviews between journalist David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). At the time Nixon sat down with Frost to discuss the sordid details that ultimately derailed his presidency, it had been three years since the former commander in chief had been forced out of office. The Watergate scandal was still fresh in everyone's minds, and Nixon had remained notoriously tight-lipped until he agreed to sit down with Frost. Nixon was certain that he could hold his own opposite the up-and-coming British broadcaster, and even Frost's own people weren't quite sure their boss was ready for such a high-profile interview. When the interview ultimately got under way and each man eschewed the typical posturing in favor of the simple truth, fans and critics on both sides were stunned by what they witnessed. Instead of Nixon stonewalling the interviewer as expected, or Frost lobbing softballs as the truth-seekers feared, what emerged was an unguardedly honest exchange between a man who had lost everything and another with everything to gain. In this film, viewers are treated to not only a recreation of that landmark interview, but a behind-the-scenes look at the power struggles that led up to it as well. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Brian Grazer team to produce a film adapted for the screen by original play author Morgan (The Queen and The Last King of Scotland). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Rating:
R (for some language)
Genre:
Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

Cast

Frank Langella
as Richard Nixon
Michael Sheen
as David Frost
Kevin Bacon
as Jack Brennan
Rebecca Hall
as Caroline Cushing
Toby Jones
as Swifty Lazar
Sam Rockwell
as James Reston Jr
Oliver Platt
as Bob Zelnick
Matthew MacFadyen
as John Birt
Patty McCormack
as Pat Nixon
Andy Milder
as Frank Gannon
Kate Jennings Grant
as Diane Sawyer
Eve Curtis
as Sue Mengers
Jenn Gotzon
as Tricia Nixon
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Critic Reviews for Frost/Nixon

All Critics (248) | Top Critics (51)

In its glib and reductionist way, it works like a charm. Or better yet, like television. Which, finally, is a compliment.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014
CNN.com
Top Critic

You never feel like you're watching a play on film: The way Morgan has opened up the proceedings in his screenplay feels organic under the direction of Ron Howard, who has crafted his finest film yet, and one of the year's best.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014
Associated Press
Top Critic

Nixon is infinitely more complex than George W. Bush, which is probably why this one slice of his life is more intriguing than "W," which covers decades.

Full Review… | February 8, 2009
Richard Roeper.com
Top Critic

The outcome isn't half as conflicted as you might imagine, though it's hard to argue that Howard brings anything new to Morgan's play.

Full Review… | January 22, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

All this makes for great entertainment on the big screen, though the real legacy of the Nixon interviews is more vexing than Morgan would have us understand.

Full Review… | December 24, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Plays often lose their energy when adapted for the screen. But even on the stage, Frost/Nixon had a cinematic dynamism, and Howard has only enhanced that quality.

Full Review… | December 24, 2008
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Frost/Nixon

½

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Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

½

NIce piece of history and a powerful performance by Langella portraying Dick Nixon

Spencer Macklin
Spencer Macklin

Super Reviewer

When watching films based on true events, my propensity for doubting what I see on screen is instantly heightened. The main thing that I found suspect was the extent to which Nixon was constructed as a villain. During the film he is shown to be deceptive, racist, lecherous and a man unashamedly motivated by money. The film does add favourable depth to the character in places, making the viewer pity him in some respects, but generally Nixon doesn't fare well at all. I don't know enough about the man to accurately comment on the film's portrayal of him, however I did find the characterisation somewhat dubious. Furthermore, upon researching the interviews, I read that David Frost's experience was different to what's seen in the film. According to his partner Caroline Cushing, he didn't fret endlessly over his performances with Nixon, he was quite content with each of the interviews. So, like many films 'inspired by true events', the film takes liberties with the facts. However this doesn't matter to the viewer, the artistic licence makes for a great piece of dramatisation. The film is quite a gruelling experience; the pressure in and out of the interviews is intense. For a film that concerns conversations, it is quite remarkable how compelling and uncomfortable it is. The wars of words and mind games are more engrossing than any boxing match in 'Raging Bull' or 'The Fighter'. The film's chief merit lies in its performances. Martin Sheen sounds and even looks exactly like David Frost, it is quite uncanny. And whilst not meeting the likeliness achieved by Sheen, Frank Langella is equally as captivating as Nixon. Also, Kevin Bacon gives a good, typical Kevin Bacon performance as Jack Brennan, the officious aide to the President. Frost/Nixon is a taut, entertaining dramatisation with strong performances and an accomplished period aura.

Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

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