There are exactly three scenes that disqualify almost any criticism about this movie:
- The drunken, unhinged rant from Frank Langella which tie the two leads together and capstone what is one of the ten best acting performances I've ever scene (and I generally abhor biopic performances, where the best-case scenario so often feels like cosplay).
- The "it's my birthday" delivery from Michael Sheen's Frost, whose performance gets lost in all of Langella's adulation but is perhaps even trickier (and certainly more dynamic).
- The subtlest of all: ten seconds of quiet astonishment, again from Michael Sheen, as the cameras briefly cut off when he has Nixon on the ropes, realizing dumbly that he's Done It.
This is a film that you watch and instantly realize it is a theatrical adaptation, and I admire the filmmakers for leaning into it. There are parts of excess (the documentary-esque asides felt wholly unnecessary) and things that I think could have made the movie stronger (why is Rebecca Hall's character necessary at all? What does she bring beyond a pretty face to tell Sheen "no, come on, you've got this!") but, again, those three scenes.