By Ryan Parsons | Image property of Variance Films, Variety
Hollywood always likes to do things in twos. You have Deep Impact, then Armageddon. Tombstone, then Wyatt Earp. Though very different, we even have two Sherlock Holmes films coming in the foreseeable future. Now, I know I'm reaching a bit here, but some might find a bit of relation between Frost/Nixon and W., two films that look at flawed Presidents as human beings. Just as W. had mixed reviews, it looks like so will Frost/Nixon.
Premiering at the London Film Festival, some of the first reviews have arrived for Frost/Nixon. While the general consensus calls the film perfectly okay, Variety's Todd McCarthy feels that Ron Howard and company got the famous interview down pat.
"Frost/Nixon" is an effective, straightforward bigscreen version of Peter Morgan's shrewd stage drama about the historic 1977 TV interview in which Richard Nixon brought himself down once again. Like the other election year release about a modern Republican president, "W.," this one isn't out to "get" its much vilified subject as much as it tries to cast him as something of a tragic victim of his own limitations and foibles--tragic for the perpetrator and his country alike. Frank Langella's meticulous performance will generate the sort of attention that will attract serious filmgoers, assuring good biz in upscale markets, but luring the under-40 public will pose a significant marketing challenge. Universal release preemed Wednesday night as the opener of the London Film Festival in advance of Dec. 5 Stateside bow.
One of the key elements of Morgan’s play was the birth of the TV close-up — that the camera can divine the truth even as words tie knots — and Howard lets his camera become a participant, closing in on its quarry. It’s something that elevates the movie far above the stage-play — we can see their faces. And it is in Nixon’s ghostly eyes, the beads of sweat on his brow, the twinges at the corner of his smile, that it became clear that Frost had snared his man.
Stirring stuff that works thrillingly as drama, and should make Sheen a star, even if it compromises on historical insight.