Wow. There are problems with this movie, but unlike Gran Torino the acting, dialogue, and performances were very powerful.
I fully admit the problems with the movie. The use of a fake documentary to frame the movie seemed weird, since it was the only bit that was in that style. And the direction wasn’t anything really to marvel at. Ron Howard is a more than capable director and this movie was of that level.
But during the actual interview scenes, I really felt it. It’s not anything really amazing or revolutionary to frame an adversarial interview as a boxing match. And a turn in the plot of the underdog getting a jolt of energy and focus and bringing the big guns ready to blast in his final moment is about as underdog movie as you can get. But the performances just sold it.
Even the supporting roles. Sam Rockwell was excellent. You really got the emotion of the character. Matthew Macfadyen was also excellent. From being Frost’s right hand, down to earth man to the turn where he slightly lost faith in Frost for a moment. Trying to hold the team together. Kevin Bacon was excellent as well. His sense of honor and loyalty to a man who held the highest office. You could see the sense of duty and service he felt. How his service to Nixon was a piece of higher service and duty to the country.
And to top it all off, Langella. There have been a lot of biopics in the past few years. And Joaquin Phoenix certainly deserved an Oscar if Jamie Foxx did. But I think Langella was better than the both of them. I’ve not seen Milk, but I’d say Langella was better than Brad “Ben Button” Pitt. I’d put it ahead (though not by much) of Richard Jenkins. I’d even give him a slight edge over Rourke. I was just so impressed with the nuance from Langella.
This movie stereotypically topical given the end of the Bush presidency. But I have to think that despite his public statements, Bush has to feel like Langella’s Nixon’s did. And I also have to believe President Bush’s aids and such (even Scooter Libby) had to feel Bush did what he did for the most part in the best interest of the country, at least in his view. And they were dedicated in their service. I’m sure there are more ways to parallel this movie to the Bush era, especially as time passes. I was very impressed with this movie. Especially coming off watching Gran Torino. It was what Gran Torino could’ve been. If the performances and dialogue weren’t so stilted. Frost/Nixon was great.