Ron Howard‘s Frost/Nixon premiered at the London Film Festival to cold and mixed reviews. Lets take a look at the early buzz.
Variety’s Todd McCarthy: “Perhaps needlessly adopting a cinematic equivalent of the play’s direct-to-audience address, Howard “interviews” several of the characters, witness-style, about the events, which only serves to make the film feel somewhat choppy, half like a documentary at first. Approach also imposes an overly predictable editing style on the whole film, one in which the cuts come precisely on the expected beats, when a fleet, syncopated rhythm would have moved the exposition along with more flair. It might even be that the film could have done without the talking heads altogether.”
In Contention: “It’s a tall order, and with Morgan’s script hewing closely to its source, Howard responds to it in the manner he knows best: with the most prosaic of visual aesthetics to hand, a doggedly linear approach to storytelling and the spotlight thrust squarely on a reliable pair of actors. The approach only gets him so far. Howard’s hands-off direction makes for an oddly bloodless viewing experience, with a lot of talk standing in for any fresh perspective (or frankly, much of a perspective at all) on the events.” … “Howard is left adrift, particularly in a sluggish first hour where, with the crucial interviews yet to begin, the historical context is painted in broad, CliffsNotes fashion, with a gallery of reconstructed talking-head interviews and distracting lookalike cameos (There’s Diane Sawyer! There’s Swifty Lazar!) in place of significant internal character development.”
Film Detail: “To the film’s great credit that director Ron Howard and Morgan (who wrote the screenplay) have not only preserved the insight and charm of the play but made it work in a different medium.” … “It is this surreal mix of the personal and political that lies at the heart of why the play and this film version work so well.”
Guardian: “But transferring this small-screen drama to the stage was a more interesting medium-shift than moving it to the big screen.”