Frost/Nixon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Frost/Nixon Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 17, 2013
NIce piece of history and a powerful performance by Langella portraying Dick Nixon
Jack Hawkins
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2012
Ron Howard's strength as a director is telling true historical tales with a drama that is lost in history books. Langella's performance is solid. Sheen's performance may be the best I've seen from him to date.
Super Reviewer
October 3, 2011
Amazing from every angle. Full review later.
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2011
Excellent film.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2009
How unexpected that this be the film that really caught my interest in 2008. I always appreciate play-based movies, to be sure, but all that history crap turned me off before I could even give it a chance. But this isn't a history movie - this is a character study of the highest degree. Nobody has praised Frank Langella enough. He doesn't play a well-coiffed irritation, he inhabits the soul of Nixon. He has managed to strip away everything but the essence of Nixon's compulsion to be loved and morally ambiguous actions. It's like that scene in A Few Good Men but less knowingly explosive.This is a less a history movie than a balletic duel between two inimitable forces. There is parallelism but we're not beaten to the ground by them. Scenes are shown to create emotions. The ending is a bit of a simplification but the movie is aware of that, how television simplifies everything. Rebecca Hall provides some much needed sex appeal. Michael Sheen's performance should rightfully be recognized but Langella makes us forget about him, sadly. I am SO impressed by Ron Howard I don't even know what to say.
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2011
Frost / Nixon is one of Ron Howard's best films since Apollo 13. The film tells the story of David Frost, and how he came to get Richard Nixon to admit to his involvement in the now famous "Frost/Nixon interviews". Ron Howard's direction iks near perfect, and Frost / Nixon is an incredible drama film. Brilliantly acted by Michael Sheen and Frank Langella. Though the film surrounds the l.egendary interview, the film is exciting to watch. I was thrilled from start to finish and I was blown away by the ending, of course those familiar with the interview knows what happens at the end, but boy is it still thrilling. Langella and Sheen's on screen chemistry is incredible and it's very intense to see them butt heads on screen. This is a masterful drama film that has an important story, one that is one of the most significant moments in American politics. The cast alongside Sheen and Langella are great as well. Sam Rockwell is as brilliant as ever and I was very impressed with Oliver Platt's performance as well considering that he's not that great an actor. Fros/Nixon is fairly suspenseful at times as the interview unfolds before the viewer. Even though we know what happens, it's nonetheless thrilling to see. Fros/Nixon is a powerful film that is superbly well acted and directed and has a powerful story to boot. Ron Howard has made some terrific films in the past, and in recent years, he has made a few duds, however this is one of his best since Cinderella Man and A Beautiful Mind.
Super Reviewer
½ September 14, 2010
This title could easily make you believe it is going to be boring. On the contrary, Ron Howard's direction, and the writing, kept the performances moving at a suspenceful pace. David Frost put his name on the map when he landed the Nixon interview. At the time, people were skeptical about Frost's ability to get Nixon to open up, and candidly discuss Watergate. During the movie, Ron Howard was able to duplicate the anticipation, and suspence, throughout the interviews. Great job!
Super Reviewer
½ February 17, 2011
Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon" is a "nice" film. It never digs to hard and never dares to attack either side; weather it be politics or the media. However, it is a fine portrait of a time when the media was starting to cause strong waves in the way politics and politicians were destined to be remembered. The cast is great and the writing is snappy, but like I said, it's all to "nice" to truly make an important statement.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2011
Frost/Nixon is a type of movie that glue you to the screen since it is very enganging. The battle of the conversation is very smart. Nixon is a historical figure that is important in the Watergate conflict. The public wants him to apologize for the mistakes he made in his presidential time, but the president never do so. Frost is somewhat the same with Nixon. The two was very confident and never know what their deficiency are. The story about how hard it is to admit our mistakes, Frost/Nixon is worth watching.

"When the president does it, that means it's not illegal" -- Richard Nixon
Super Reviewer
April 2, 2010
Frost/Nixon, if you haven't heard yet, is an adaptation of a stage play that details the build-up and production of four interviews between former president Richard M. Nixon and Australian television host David Frost in 1977. The interviews were quite important as they were the first to be conducted since Nixon resigned from the Oval Office. This was to be the first, and best, chance to theoretically heal the nation by getting Nixon to come clean about his criminal culpability. Would this lightweight showbiz interviewer be able to match wits with a master politician, or would he play an unwitting role in rehabilitating the image of the hated ex-president?

In a rare move, both of the original play's leads reprise their roles for this Ron Howard-directed film version. Frank Langella once again portrays Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen again takes on David Frost. Langella (who you may remember as Skeletor in Masters of the Universe... no? Ok, maybe that's just me. And Clint.) won a Tony Award in 2007 for the stage version, and does an outstanding job here, virtually guaranteeing himself a Best Actor Oscar nomination. He is absolutely mesmerizing on screen. The rest of the cast shines just as brightly (Ron Howard, I believe deserves a lot of credit for not being overly directorial and letting his actors flourish). Michael Sheen has the difficult task of keeping Frost sympathetic while he consistently underestimates the demands of the assignment he has given himself; however, the most entertaining beats, arguably, involve Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt. Rockwell in particular excels as anti-Nixon historian James Reston Jr., who desperately wants to use this interview to "give Nixon the trial he never got." Oliver Platt is less over dramatic as ABC News honcho Bill Zelnick, but it's always a joy to watch him play subtly sarcastic, intelligent men of authority.

The one major critique of the film I've heard is that the screenplay's arches have been manipulated and heightened to give the film more of a dramatic feel, and that the original Frost/Nixon interviews are nowhere near as entertaining (except when the topic turned to Watergate, of course). While that may be true, the elevated drama in this film is absolutely riveting and supremely effective, thereby making it nearly impossible to stand by that criticism. What we have is a Rocky-style boxing match: meticulous research and training, all in the hopes of destroying the opposition. I saw this film with some friends of mine, and at one point, I looked over and each one of them were sitting on the edge of their seats, eyes glued to the screen, absolutely riveted by what was transpiring. Best of all, this film was able to accomplish that without explosions and chase scenes. That, my friends, is the mark of an excellent film.
Super Reviewer
½ February 20, 2010
While this film is really damn good, it's not as good as it thinks it is or should be. Yes, the subject matter is engrossing, interesting, and important, and yes, while the direction is good (this is one of Howard's better films of the past few years), the pacing is kinda shaky. Everything else though, from the performances, to the writing, and the art direction/set design/details, is absolutely terrific if not borderline phenomenal. Langella isn't a dead ringer for Nixon in voice or likeness, but the mannerisms and characterization of spot on. Sheen is likewise amazing as Frost. I really enjoyed the supporting roles as well. It's nice to see Platt in a dramatic role (something he doesn't (I don't believe) do too much of-which is a pity). Mhy grade is a slight inflation, but that's because I happen to enjoy this period of American history, and just reallty like the overall look and feel of everything on display.
Super Reviewer
½ December 20, 2009
Great acting from all involved and an interesting take on a fascinating historical event.
Super Reviewer
½ December 1, 2008
As I watched Frost/Nixon, I hoped for the same kind of electric verbal sparring that occured between Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in Doubt, but that level of intensity never came. The movie was more interesting to me as a bit of a refresher on Nixon, than it was as a televised battle between two adversaries.

I really liked how the film was almost shot as a documentary. It portrayed Nixon as a sympathetic character, which was fine by me. Rebecca Hall's character unfortunately felt wasted and unnecessary, and the confrontatial scenes often lacked the spark I was hoping to see, but I still felt that Frost/Nixon had merit. I just wish more of it had the fervent intensity of the phone call between Frost and Nixon that took place a few nights before their final interview.
Super Reviewer
September 28, 2008
Michael Sheen and Frank Langella are absolutely extroadinary. Sheen is a revelation, giving an excellent performance and Langella steals the show in every way possiable with his magnificent and unforgettable portrayel as former president Richard Nixon. It delivers first-rate performances all around from it's great cast. Kevin Bacon is electrifying. Toby Jones is brilliant. Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt and Matthew Macfadyen are teriffic. A powerful, thrilling, wickedly funny and incrediable film. It's tremendous, exciting and blooming brilliant. Smart, superb and sensational. A real magnificent knockout. A wonderful film that dazzels with honesty and intelligence. Director, Ron Howard strikes gold once again, it's his most fasinating and compelling work since A Beautiful Mind. A masterpiece plain and simple no questions asked. It hits all the right notes and brings something speacial. It's a riveting drama of the finest kind in the finest form.
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2009
About as close to perfect as a docu/drama can get. Yes, we all know the story (or at least those of a certain age know it), but this film is so much more than the famous interview; it is a charactor study of a very complex and conflicted man, Richard Nixon. I found Langella's performace riveting, all the arogance and brilliance underscored by an inferiority complex. That he made the interview into a battle is both revealing and ratchets up the tension.

Howard does a nice job directing, using fake interviews with the surrounding charactors to set up the action to follow.

Interesting little tidbits abound, from the inclusion of Dianne Sawyer as part of Nixon's interview team to a hilarious bit where Oliver Platt immitates Nixon saying that JFK would hump anything, even Checkers - that poor dog was never the same....

All of Nixon's brashness and money hunger is on display, and yet for all his megalomania you can almost feel sorry for him - for he was indeed brilliant and did accomplish an aweful lot on not only the global stage, but in curbing that first recession (remember the wage/price freeze he instituted - and this was when he had no control over either branch of Congress). He inherited Viet Nam and while bombing Cambodia was perhaps ill advised (as the film points out) - at that point he was still trying to achieve victory. It took guts for him to finally pull us out, something that Obama promissed to do and has yet to be able to accomplish.
Super Reviewer
November 10, 2009
Frost/Nixon is the story about the historic interviews by a British journalist who got a post-pardon Richard Nixon to admit he was a crook. This movie is proof positive that Ron Howard can actually make a good movie once in a very great while but mostly the movie revolves around Frank Langella's brilliant portrayal of Nixon and how you... almost... feel sorry for the man by the end of the movie. Overall, Frost/Nixon is a really solid movie that seems to play out more like some kind of boxing movie or David and Goliath tale but that seems to make it more accessible than anything. And that late night phone call scene was incredible and hysterical all at the same time...
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2009
In adapting a play to the screen -- even an award-winning play such as this -- a screenwriter or director can fall into one of two traps. On the one hand, the staged nature of either the dialogue or the actors makes for dull viewing on screen, creating what Alfred Hitchcock once described as "photographs of people talking". On the other hand, to combat this, the spectacles surrounding the action become too dominant and the film loses focus; by moving the action to an exotic location with impressive but unnecessary visual effects, the audience is needlessly distracted and compromised.

Thankfully, Frost/Nixon falls into neither of these traps. Ron Howard's direction is understated and unfussy; he shoots every scene, from the most trivial entrance to the gripping final interview with a silent sensibility, never feeling he has to prompt the actors to work harder in creating the mood, or deciding to help them with unnecessary camera angles. Despite the fact that the film's subject is a series of television interviews, the film never risks becoming 'televisual'. The camera is an observer to the process of making TV, without becoming TV itself.

Of the central performances, the most remarkable is Frank Langella as Nixon. While wisely choosing not to do a completely accurate pastiche, he embodies most of the Nixon mannerisms we know and love (or not). Thus he completely dissolves into the character, and we are able to go with him because we are not conscious that he is acting, or if we are, then we are not sufficiently irritated by his gestures that we get distracted.

Michael Sheen eventually becomes a match for him, although for the first few minutes there are more signs of parody than accurate performance, and occasionally he smiles in the way that his Kenneth Williams did in Fantabulosa!, causing audiences to raise an eyebrow. However once the largely expository first 20 minutes is over, we beginning to realise what makes his Frost tick, how he manages to be both ambitious and misguided, and eventually we find ourselves taking his side in the final interview. He never inhabits Frost in the same way as Langella does -- perhaps a reflection of his growing fame rather than a dearth of ability -- but the final interview sequence is particularly brilliant on his part.

In supporting roles, there are also many good turns on both sides. Kevin Bacon chews up the screen as the sinister, Milgram-esque Paul Brennan, Nixon's Chief-of-Staff, in what is probably his best performance since Apollo 13 (also directed by Howard). Rebecca Hall acquits herself very well as Frost's love interest, even if she is easily mistaken for Imogen Heap until the credits come up. And Sam Rockwell gives a great performance as Frost's fiery researcher, another example of complete immersion in the role. It's certainly hard to believe that only nine years earlier he played the retarded murderer Wild Bill in The Green Mile.

There are, however, a few problems with this film. Both the first 20 minutes and the ending are a little loose. The opening sequence is confusing, intercutting between Nixon as played by Langella and television clips surrounding the Watergate Scandal. Howard is clearly trying to place the events of his resignation in context for those unfamiliar with history, but to do this in this way confuses the audience. If you're going to have Nixon, Frost et al. played by actors, why not have the likes of Gerald Ford and others like him played by actors too? It would have been relatively easy to identify them, even through the use of strap-lines on the TV clips. The ending too, with the exchange surrounding the phone call, is also poorly executed. The phone call as a plot device works -- even if it didn't occur in real life, it helps explain Frost's transformation in the final interview -- but the final conversation between Frost and Nixon feels staged and fake as they struggle to tie up that loose end.

Comparisons were always going to be made between this film and Oliver Stone's Nixon, which ends where this film begins. But where Stone clearly has an axe to grind, squandering the best that Anthony Hopkins can offer in the pursuit of a point-scoring caricature, Howard's film creates a compelling portrait of Nixon which is neither overly sympathetic nor unnecessarily damning. It is definitely Howard's best film since A Beautiful Mind, and shares with that a sense of understatement in the face of grandeur that the likes of Stone and Michael Moore just don't understand. This is a highly compelling film, by no means a masterpiece or a completely accurate history lesson, but a powerful showcase of acting talent and political drama at its best.
Willy T
Super Reviewer
½ September 9, 2009
After America had found out that our 37th president had been involved in a crime, we wanted to know more about Richard Nixon. After he announced his resignation, he decided to schedule an interview witth a famous interviewer named David Frost where they discussed the Watergate scandal and the end of his presidency and the interviews is what the movie mainly focuses on.

Eventhough this is based on a true story, the movie itself seems so real. The real strength of the movie though is the two leads. They are very powerful as they are not playing Frost and Nixon, they are being Frost and Nixon. Frank Langella, who is Nixon, has a well deserved oscar nomination. But, I think Michael Sheen does even a better job as he is Frost in the most real way possible. This film is also very well edited which is a good element to have for a Oscar contender like this one.

There were scenes in this movie where I said to myself, "Yes, this is interesting, but I want more." Especially during the non-interview scenes. I was hoping Ron Howard could've pulled off a masterpiece every scene in the movie just as engaging and powerful as the interview scenes.

Overall, Frost/Nixon is a solid, good movie just missing my top 10 best movies of 2008. Eventhough some scenes are not as enthrilling as others, this film is still masterfully acted the whole time. If your into politics or not, Republican or Democrat, you will enjoy this movie.
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