For a political and news junkie, the movie was pure gold. I was far too young at the time to pay attention when Watergate was happening, and just a 9-year-old kid in Germany when the actual Frost/Nixon interviews took place in 1977. I have studied the events of that time in journalism school, and done a fair bit of reading on my own, so I wasn't lost in the multitude of historical details that the film throws at the viewer.
But the facts of the story aren't really what this film is about: this is a character piece, about two men engaged in a verbal duel, with the world as an audience. Nixon walks all over Frost the first three interviews, but in the fourth, Frost comes back out swinging, and gets Nixon to admit he was involved in a cover-up.
The climax of the movie comes when Nixon loses his cool during the fourth interview, and states, "I'm saying that when the President does it, that means it's *not* illegal!"
The moment was breathtaking in its pure hubris... Nixon really did believe that he was above the law, and was rather let down by the fact that America didn't agree. This reminded me more than just a little of a recent ex-President.
And then, just at that moment, Nixon's walls are down, he's revealing the flawed human underneath to the cameras...
A cell phone goes off in the audience!
And instead of shutting it off, he answers it while leaving the auditorium!
You could hear the wave of annoyance going through the audience, the collective exhaled breath, the mutters of "jeez!" from rows ahead of us. It was like he had punctured a balloon.
Anyway, Ron Howard directed, and managed to get BOTH his father (Rance) and his brother (Clint) small roles in the film. Clint STILL looks like Balok, over 40 years after The Corbomite Maneuver.
Thumbs up for news and politics junkies, anyone who lived through the era, and for Langella's performance as Nixon.