When the actual interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon aired way back in 1977 I was just a youngster with no interest in politics or much else of any great import. I probably could not even say the name "Nixon," much less "Watergate" or "resignation." Fast-forward to today and you will find the adult me still pretty much clueless when it comes to the Frost/Nixon interviews or any of the Watergate specifics.
I know, just your typical "dumb American," and I admit that my knowledge of history is lacking, not to mention a few other subjects as well. So, while I am not taking this film as absolute truth (an approach taken with any true story adaptation), I do see it as an interesting window into a fascinating moment in time. The movie isn't half bad either.
Frost/Nixon opens by introducing us to Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) as he resigns from the White House in the wake of the Watergate scandal and pretty much removing himself from the public eye. I suppose it was for the best - his disappearance, that is. He was a polarizing figure who wasn’t exactly in the good graces of the public; I'd disappear, too.
The opening also introduces us to David Frost (Michael Sheen), who lost his show in America and works on a fluffy interview show in Australia. The man is shown to thrive on his public appearance and desperately wants to get back in with the American crowd, where he believes the greatest success can be had.
The first act spends most of its time on getting David Frost into position. Following Nixon’s resignation announcement, Frost gets the idea that he would like to interview him for whatever reason. To that end he makes some calls, but it doesn't seem likely. However, with Nixon looking to rehab his image, and seeing Frost as the best candidate for a fluffy interview and the biggest paycheck, he accepts Frost's offer. Now Frost only has to get some questions together and find someone to air the interviews. This latter element proves to be the most difficult.
Once he gets the pieces together, the film moves into the second act, which focuses on the interviews. This is the real meat and potatoes of the film and the real reason to want to watch it. I didn't care about the setup or the eventual conclusion; I was there to see the verbal confrontations between the two men of the title. Not knowing anything about the interviews, this was my interest.