Academy Award winning director Ron Howard presents Peter Morgan’s adaptation of Frost/Nixon – featuring the series of monumental interviews between British T.V. host David Frost (Michael Sheen), and former U.S. President, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). Three years of silence followed Nixon’s 1974 resignation, and until the 1977 interview, the infamous Watergate scandal that ultimately ended Nixon’s presidency, remained publicly unaddressed. Frost, hoping to score plenty of numbers on the viewing charts was anxious to restore his dwindling career in hosting, and Nixon, convinced he could easily manipulate and verbally withstand the goofy sell-out, was desperate to regain both the status of “statesmen” and affection of his country. Frost/Nixon presents the verbal duel that not only measured the strength and integrity of two men, but inspired the highest number of viewers in the history of American television.
Frost/Nixon features one, very specific event. However, for both men, the stakes were sky high, making the nature of the interview process incredibly precarious. Accomplishments, titles, and status aside – this film gave the audience the opportunity to see both men as human beings. Human beings that are susceptible to pressure, the infectious desire for success, and most importantly: failure.
After eight years of Bush-hating, and an excruciatingly controversial 2008 election, America is quick to harbor judgement toward national leaders. It’s novel, and almost refreshing to see a film that acknowledges the humanity of a man with such infinite responsibility, without trivializing the depth of his mistakes.
Frost/Nixon by no means intended to pardon Nixon’s affiliation with the Watergate scandal, but certainly wasn’t a two hour condemnation of his presidency. While the film captures Nixon’s pit-bull, public persona, the writing ventures beyond his notorious “stonewall,” and features his personal life -specifically the solitude and distress that inevitably proceeded his resignation. In doing so, the film was an entirely objective piece, leaving the audience plenty of room for unbiased judgement – Not to mention, making Nixon’s emotional breakthrough and ultimate apology to his country incredibly poignant.
While most American’s stand by their opinions regarding Nixon’s betrayal, this film doesn’t aim to necessarily alter prior judgment, just provoke further consideration. Frost/Nixon demonstrates not only how the art of television combined with a relentless cross-examination can challenge even the most resolute of human beings, but that the truth can, indeed, set you free.
The film hits theatres nationwide Friday, December 5th.