Michael Sheen pulls off another of his uncanny impersonations of famous people in this big-screen version of Peter Morgan’s hit play about David Frost’s historic 1977 TV interview with disgraced former US president Richard Nixon. At the time, most people (including Nixon himself) thought that the TV personality would prove too much of a lightweight to land any telling blows on the wily ex-president, but Frost surprised everyone (including, perhaps, himself) by managing to wring an apology out of Nixon for the Watergate scandal that had sunk his presidency three years earlier.
Even when you know the outcome, it’s still enthralling to watch the pair jockeying for the upper hand as their encounter unfolds over the four days of interviews. Sheen conveys the grit that lies beneath Frost’s jet-set charm, the unexpected steeliness behind the catchphrases and mannerisms, while the equally impressive Frank Langella shows self-regard and self-loathing struggling for supremacy in Nixon’s soul. And Ron Howard, in the director’s chair, does a skilful job of opening out Morgan’s play without losing any of its intimacy. Indeed, having enjoyed the play on the Donmar stage, I reckon the screen showdown is even more intense.
Released 18th May