This tense retelling of the historic televised interviews between British talk show host David Frost and recently resigned US president Richard Nixon is not at all the talkfest you might suspect, but is actually structured like a boxing movie, with each contender training, honing his strategy, entering the ring, taking his blows, then retreating to the corner to confer with his team.
Frank Langella and Michael Sheen may not look or sound much like Nixon or Frost, respectively, but both are nothing less than excellent, as is the rest of the impeccably professional cast. (Only Rebecca Hall, quite good as the Vicky of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, seems wasted here as Frost's love interest – but then, this is a Ron Howard movie, and women in Ron Howard movies are almost never allowed to be anything other than the supportive wife or girlfriend. What's the deal, Ron Howard?)
The real star of the show is screenwriter Peter Morgan, who adapted his own successful play. Morgan's the guy who wrote The Queen, and Frost/Nixon is something of a counterpart to that film, being similarly a dramatization of the scenes behind a major event in recent history that pitted pop culture-savvy climbers against political dinosaurs. (As in several of Morgan's TV projects, Sheen also starred in The Queen, as Tony Blair.) Morgan's sharp take on the role of television and mass culture in history is compelling, and I'm eager to see what event he chooses to tackle next.
All in all I found Frost/Nixon to be quite good. The real-life interviews may be more fascinating – no one can play Nixon as well as Nixon himself – but there's enough behind-the-scenes intrigue to make the film well worth seeing.