2 Days in ParisRelease Date: Dec. 5 (limited)Director: Ron HowardWriter: Peter MorganCinematographer: Salvatore
TotinoStarring: Frank Langella,
Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Matthew
MacfadyenStudio/Run Time: Universal
Studios, 122 mins.
There’s a pivotal moment in
Frost/Nixon when ex-president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella)
drunkenly calls talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen) on a night preceding their final interview, unwittingly inspiring Frost to go
into battle mode and more rigorously prepare for the biggest assignment of his career. It makes for wonderful drama, and is
possibly the most engrossing scene in the film. The only problem is
that it never happened. Brilliant lie that it is, it provides
the film with a climactic punctuation that might otherwise have been
missing.2 Days in ParisBased on the first major interview
Nixon had done since leaving the White House in disgrace in 1974,
director Ron Howard positions Frost as an underdog figure who,
eventually, rises to the challenge of pinning Nixon down on the
Watergate cover-up. Like many historical dramas, Frost/Nixon is
filled with character exaggerations and overly suspenseful moments.
But Howard makes it work, partly because of a talented supporting
cast (Sam Rockwell is especially noteworthy as investigator James
Reston, Jr.) but mainly because of Langella’s brilliant, compelling
performance. While he captures the general essence of the late
president, Langella has created a bigger Nixon, filled with regality
and complexity, disdain and even class.
Sheen portrays Frost as an overly
confident, international star in the making, an entertainer who
desires fame more than truth. The real Frost had much more substance
and was not the pretty-boy celebrity portrayed in the film. But the
deceit is essential in the development of Frost’s awakening and
gives the film its hero. Frost/Nixon proves that though
history can be inspiring, in film it can be an inconvenience, one
readily repaired with the phrase “based on a true story."