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it's promising. full review later.
by the way, does anyone know if the phonecall actually happened?
Anyway, the verdict, possible spoilers...
You could boil it down to an underdog story, really. Frost gets the opportunity to interview Dick, is told he's way out of his depth (something which is shown to be true in the early interviews). His team resent him, he's mocked by the opposition, until the inevitable rise against the odds when he knuckles down to eventually reign supreme. Essentially Dodgeball with suits. Or, to paraphrase Rich Hall...
"He's an interviewer. Pretty good talk show host. Then he has a crisis of confidence, until he meets a good looking woman who helps him become a better interviewer."
However, that would be glossing over some very good work in and on the film. I was sceptical about the direction before hand, as I've never really been a Ron Howard fan. But he did well here I'll say. In part, he is helped by a mesmeric performance by Frank Langella as Nixon. No doubt his role as Nixon on the stage has helped him portray every mistake, every bad dream, every regret the disgraced former President ever had, captured beautifully near the end as he sits silently in the closing interview. Another stellar performance for me was Kevin Bacon, shining as Nixon's aide and Vietnam veteran Jack Brennan. He excelled in representing the hard nosed edge of the right, before struggling to come to terms with his employer's back-alley dealings.
The structure of the film is also quite viewer friendly, but not in a way which detracts from Frost/Nixon wholesale. We begin with various news bulletins reporting on Watergate, and the film is interspersed with snippets from the characters, reflecting on their memories of the interviews (for example Zelnik and Reston, Frost's two American researchers, talk about their initial contempt of Frost as a mere talk show host). Not only does this help the audience not get lost in the political aspects, it allows for some telling moments. One particular which stands out is Brennan at the end of the film, when he confesses he never watched the interviews when they went out on broadcast...the betrayal etched in his face was palpable.
Sadly, and rather oddly, the disappointment in this film is, well, Frost himself. Despite the financial burden he incurs, and the bravery he shows in tackling one of the biggest fish in the pond bare-handed, for me he never lost the slimy edge which irked his researchers so much in the beginning. Both men are portrayed as lonely, fame-seeking individuals who are petrified of being thrown to the wayside, yet when Frost throws himself a birthday party with Neil Diamond on singing duties, and has the gorgeous Rebecca Hall dripping over him, it is hard to have much sympathy. A shame, as I quite like Sheen usually.
Yet this shouldn't detract too much from what is a rather good film on the whole. Formulaic, yes. Clunky in places, it is. But I could certainly think of worse ways to spend a couple of hours on a saturday afternoon...I mean, Portsmouth are usually playing.
A solid 6, maybe 7 out of 10.