Riveting stuff as heavyweights of politics fight it out

PUBLISHED: 12:04 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 07 September 2010

Frost/Nixon (15) Director Ron Howard Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Matthew Macfadyen, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell 122 mins Four star rating Let s just state the obvious; it s good, it s very good. I didn t see the play, can t tell

Frost/Nixon (15)

Director Ron Howard Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Matthew Macfadyen, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell 122 mins

Four star rating

Let's just state the obvious; it's good, it's very good. I didn't see the play, can't tell you what its writer Peter Morgan has done to open it out for the big screen but whatever alchemy that stage production had has been retained. This gripping and perfectly performed film will satisfy its small but perfectly formed target audience more fully than any other film currently on release.

Frost, the man who rose with-out trace, enjoys an unchallenge-able, yet inexplicable level of fame. Like Bruce Forsyth or Sto-nehenge, he's something whose true and original purpose has been lost with the passing of time.

He is a neat counterpoint for the mysteries of Watergate. At one stage of my life I understood the whole thing - could distinguish between the Haldemann and Ehrlichmen, the plumbers and Bebe Rebezo - but it was an understanding that soon slipped from my grasp.

Morgan has made a career out of mythologizing the near past, placing an interpretation on events that ought really to be too recent to stand such treatment. And BBC employees may find something queasy about having John Birt (Macfayden), the old "croak-voiced Dalek" himself, portrayed as a dashing journalistic hero.

Frost (Sheen) is used as a surrogate Blair and the film ramps up the themes Morgan explored in The Queen in much the way Rocky 3 ramps up the conflicts from Rocky. It's a battle of smarm v substance, charm vs. intellect, youth vs. experience but it's also about two men battling to avoid being typecast.

Nixon (Langella) is desperate to ringfence some of his achievements away from the all encompassing stain of Watergate while Frost is trying to escape being Mr Hello, Good Evening, Welcome. It's a miss match but the plucky underdog can win if he can get the ex-President to apologise.

Frost/Nixon is the story of how the labyrinthine morass of a national scandal was simplified into a man risking his career and $2million in a quest to get one man to say sorry. Forget the boxing analogy; it is closer to an epic high brow Jeremy Kyle Show.


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