Posted by schnolis on January 21st, 2009 filed in Reviews

THE_READERWhen I think of sympathetic characters in history, Nixon has to be one of the lowest guys on the list. He is the only person to resign as Presidenent of the United States. The entire Watergate story and cover-up, complete with confidential informant Deep Throat, is the most recognized political scandal in America.

But this movie does a pretty amazing job portraying Nixon (played by Frank Langella) as a guy who merits some sympathy. The story is told leading up to the interview Nixon gave to David Frost (Michael Sheen) a British television host in 1977. My lack of knowledge of history is probably a weakness in analyzing movies such as these. As I was only five at the time, I don’t remember any such interview, but I still enjoyed the movie a bunch.

David Frost is portrayed largely failing to make any real progress in getting Nixon to reveal anything in his interview. He fails repeatedly in all attempts to turn the interview into anything but an opportunity for Nixon to try to re-establish his reputation without admitting to any wrongdoing in the process. That is, until the last day of taping, of course.

The trouble with any historical movie is in trying to build suspense despite knowing the outcome of the event. This movie tried a little too hard, though. It was a David vs. Goliath story, sure, but the tables too turn abruptly and awkwardly to be convincing. Despite these troubles the movie plays well, and I left the theater gladly surprised.

What I liked: Nixon’s interesting and humanizing portrayal. A pretty well-told story and fascinating characters.

What I disliked: The overt foreshadowing through the documentary format. The documentary format overall didn’t really work very well, which I feel caused more confusion than in provided clarity.

Rating: 8 of 10

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