It has always been my assumption that certain scripts demand certain directors. Obviously a comedy deserves an Apatow/McKay type director. A courtroom drama deserves a Lumet-type director. So where in the wide, wide, world of sports did someone come up with the idea that Ron Howard should be directing this film? And since when is he considered one of "the" directors? Don't get me wrong. I like the guy. Splash, Cocoon, Parenthood. He's an entertaining director. Just not a great director. And what Frost/Nixon needed was a great director.
Since we can easily view the original interviews on YouTube, the entertainment doesn't lie in front of the interviewing camera, but behind it. And it was here that I was expecting an All The Presdient's Men/Zodiac type fact gathering treatment as Frost and his team prepared to give Nixon the trial he never had. Here Frank Langella shines. As Nixon, he knows this interview is a slam dunk, but he's still looking for a formidable foe in Frost. But Michael Sheen never delivers the gigantic ego that David Frost possesses. Instead, he walks through the entire film with the wide eyes of a 10 year old frightened child. And rather than let the scenes capture the emotions of the times, Ron Howard relies on the laziest of narration - the one on one interview with the principles involved in the movie. It's a cop-out and a glaring sign that Howard doesn't trust his audience to keep up. Or he doesn't trust himself to deliver any real drama.
On the surface, this movie seems like a no-brainer. And it looks like Hollywood approached it that way. Let's just cast the stars of the theater production for the movie, then turn on the camera and let them chew up the scenes like it was a well seasoned piece of meat. And in looking at it that way, you really could have had anyone behind the camera. Maybe that's why they picked Ronnie. He was the least likely person to screw it up with any kind of... oh I don't know... directorial style. Only that's what screwed up this movie. It risks nothing. Ron delivers the movie almost as if it were a documentary. He adds no point of view. And then one wonders what he really brings to the table. A couple of dozen movies to his career, could anyone really say what kind of a director Ron Howard is? Or wants to be?
I am more angry that Frost/Nixon was an average movie, than I would have been if it would have been a terrible movie. All the pieces were there. Except the director. Andy, go fetch the fishing-pole, Opie is in the creek and he's in way over his head.