Frost/Nixon – Could have been, should have been….

So I saw this film a few days ago, and have been meaning to blog on the subject for a while. Problem is, whenever I sit down to write something I can’t quite find a way to start, a line to take.

Everything is in place for something genuinely good. A gripping story, with surprising amount of suspense for a story that we all know the end of. Great performances, just the right side of impersonation (why hasn’t Michael Sheen received equal recognition with his co-star….they depend on one another). A story that has a significance and casts a long shadow over political history since.

But there’s the rub. That’s just the problem. It’s all taken for granted. It’s assumed in the direction and the script that we all know and understand exactly the scale and get the significance. Which if you are not my age (35) or younger, you do because you lived through it and you know it intuitively. But for someone like me, who knows it but doesn’t feel it, then you end up feeling impressed, maybe gripped but strangely empty.

The problem is the direction of Ron Howard, framing the story (adapted from a stage play) around a series of talking head interviews with the main players (the actors, not the actual people). The characters are too busy being, doing but not actually really developing. And what’s clearly supposed to be the moment of central significance (a late night phone call from Nixon to Frost before the last interview) is openly admitted to be fabricated.

It’s a good film; there is much to admire. I want to love it, for it to be special to me. It would do wonders for my cool liberal sensibilities. But I can’t.

The sad thing is, it just falls short.

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