Tuesday, 27 January 2009


In 1972, in the early hours of the morning, five men were caught breaking into the Democratic Government headquarters in Washington – each armed with photographic equipment and bugging devices.

Following an intense investigation by two Washington Post reporters, the men were linked back to none other than Republican leader and President of the United States – Richard Nixon.

It was named the Watergate scandal – a scandal which revealed cover ups, slush funds, illegal taping and a cascade of dirty tricks within the White House – forcing the 37th President of the United States, and only President to date, to resign from office.

It was a story which deeply disturbed American people, tore a dagger through the heart of democracy and trust and made a mockery out of America’s political system. But Nixon never apologised for his wrongdoings or showed an admission of guilt – much to the annoyance of the American press who wanted to give the pardoned President their own trial by media.

Strange then that it was British talk show host, politically inexperienced and satirical clown, David Frost who bagged the ‘no holds barred’ interview of all time – an interview which becomes the setting of director Ron Howard’s political thriller.

Frost (Michael Sheen) and Nixon (Frank Langella) are no strangers to these roles having both played the same characters previously in Peter Morgan’s play of the same name. Langella sounds and looks uncannily like Nixon – playing the former president as a battling, frustrated rogue who sees Frost as easy prey. Sheen, on the other hand, plays Frost with an air of vulnerability – a presenter caught in a confidence crisis and, at times immensely futile under Nixon’s giant personality.

In fact, it is these moments, as both wrestle to take control of the interview – one to gain back his political power, the other to be seen as a serious journalist - which makes the most interesting viewing . Howard’s Rocky-like structure is also incredibly gripping as each character prepares for the Watergate showdown.

This is a dynamite story and while it may not have the same impact on Oscar night as Alan J. Pakula’s All The President's Men, based on the two Washington Post reporters who cracked the story, this gripping little thriller isn’t far behind.

Rating: * * * * *

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