Frost/Nixon

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(2008) ★★½

BBC2: Sunday 31 May, 11.00pm

Three years after fallout from the Watergate scandal forced him out of the White House, disgraced president Richard Nixon accepts a fat fee from David Frost to sit in front of TV cameras and try to absolve… er, sorry… explain himself. It seemed like a shabby affair at the time, and distance lends it no dignity. Frank Langella gives Nixon a theatrical and entirely inapt gravitas (Anthony Hopkins far better captured Nixon’s shrivelled soul in Oliver Stone’s slippery movie), while Michael Sheen’s David Frost looks much like Michael Sheen’s Tony Blair. Or Michael Sheen’s Brian Clough. In another bad haircut. Ron Howard’s pompous film version of a hit stage play treats the celebrity-obsessed material as if it’s somehow significant outside of media circles. All the important stuff had already happened, and was detailed quite brilliantly 30 years ago in the Robert Redford/Dustin Hoffman movie All the President’s Men. That one followed the money. This one defers to a man who, thanks to Gerald Ford’s full pardon, escaped censure for his betrayal of America’s highest office. George Clooney’s Goodnight, and Good Luck had something relevant to say about the fractious relationship between TV and politics. This “Hello, good evening and welcome” chitchat doesn’t delve much deeper than “Show me the money.”

Certificate: 15
Duration: 122min