Nominated for five Oscars, including Best Film, Director and Actor, Ron Howard’s heavy hitting, critically acclaimed adaptation of Peter Morgan’s stageplay Frost/Nixon comes to win over a whole new audience on DVD. But is it worthy of all those accolades? Absolutely.
As a dramatisation of the ground-breaking interviews between British TV host David Frost and disgraced former President Richard Nixon, it’s an outstanding piece of film-making. As an acting masterclass with two performers at the top of their game, it’s astonishing to watch. The battle of wills between Frank Langella’s Nixon – a sly politician determined to remain tight-lipped on the real truths behind the Watergate affair that forced him from office – and Michael Sheen’s Frost – a TV host putting his career on the line for an interview that carries far more weight than even he can realise – is absolutely mesmerising. Both performances are spot-on, but they are no simple charicatures and go way beyond mimickery. Both actors get completely under the skin of the characters, Sheen’s bubbly demeanour hiding a man being pushed to his limits and Langella’s brash exterior belying Nixon’s realisation that he has made a mockery of America’s love affair with democracy.
Screenwriter Peter Morgan has retained the blistering verbal exchanges of his play, and director Howard has enough experience to let the material speak for itself, to let the story play out through the experiences – both shared and individual – of these two men through this tumultuous time. He doesn’t patronise his audience with lengthy exposition, understanding that the material is strong enough that even those with no knowledge of American history will grasp the magnitude of what is playing out on screen. As these two men slowly but surely change the face of both television and politics, so Frost/Nixon develops into a beautifully crafted, expertly handled drama of the highest order. 5 stars
Disappointingly, there is only a small fragment of the original interview included on the disc; thankfully it is the very moment when David Frost coaxes a brutal explanation from Nixon on the Watergate affair. But Ron Howard’s commentary is excellent and in-depth, and there is also a meaty making of and several deleted scenes plus archive footage of Richard Nixon. The Blu-ray release also has additional featurettes and picture-in-picture capabilities. 4 stars
Stars Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell
Director Ron Howard
Distributor Universal Pictures Video
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Released May 18th