Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Best Picture nominee? Really?

Frost/Nixon is Ron Howard's adaptation of the Peter Morgan play, based in turn on David Frost's TV interviews with Richard Nixon in 1977. And there's a lot of interesting thing in it, but there's also something missing.

The performances are certainly excellent, with Frank Langella and Michael Sheen managing to transcend mere impersonation and getting to grips with the characters. In this version of history, at least, Nixon is still convinced that he did nothing wrong, and more legitimately aggrieved that Watergate has come to overshadow the rest of his legacy. As for Frost, he's mainly interested in his career; nailing Nixon only comes into it because it'll make him look successful.

The parallels between the two are well drawn, as is the notion that the interviews mirror what went wrong with Nixon's presidency - once again, Watergate overshadows everything else.

But... the first half of the film goes in for an awful lot of spoon-feeding. Unsure how to react to a particular scene? Don't worry. A supporting character will be along to tell you in a moment. It picks up once the interviews themselves get going, but still never persuades me to care about any the characters. And after going to some trouble to haul Caroline Cushing into the story, the film gives her nothing to do.

Yes, there's some interesting stuff in here... but a Best Picture nominee? I'm not seeing it.