Imagine the classic story about a gritty martial arts tournament, where the young hero gets beaten up a fair bit before learning an Important Revelation about himself and his abilities, before coming back to challenge his adversary in a final bout. Now, imagine that concept as a series of interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon, dragging back and forth with an intriguing intensity.
David Frost (Michael Sheen, last seen by this nerd as the delectable Lucian in Underworld) is a British TV personality, bored out of his brain doing fluffy variety entertainment shows. Richard Nixon (Frank Langella, last seen by me in Superman Returns as the not-really-delectable Perry White) is living in purgatorial exile after Watergate, bored out of his brain doing speeches and political anecdotes. Frost decides to interview Nixon to try and do something different, to chase the glamour and limelight he once tasted in New York years ago and lost. Nixon wants a challenge and a fight, a chance to exonerate himself.
The verbal sparring between the two is well done and well acted and the dialogue between the supporting cast is also well done. I particularly enjoyed Kevin Bacon as the uber-patriotic bodyguard and also thought Langella did a stand-out performance to capture Nixon’s distinctive voice and mannerisms. All in all, a fascinating tale of political martial arts, with my only complaint being some strange-sounding Australian accents during the Australian section.
Four out of five interviews from me.