EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum does the stage-to-screen two-step with Frost/Nixon and Doubt. The good news is that Frost/Nixon earns an A-. The bad news? Doubt gets trashed.
First up, Frost/Nixon:
With the transcript as his guide, Morgan explores psychological terrain: how Frost found the chutzpah to land the interviews; how Nixon played cat and mouse with his interlocutor when asked to admit wrongdoing and apologize; how both men of humble beginnings felt stung by the scorn of those born with more ‚Ä®privilege; and how both were superb manipulators. But Sheen (who played the very model of a modern British go-getter as Tony Blair in The Queen, also written by Morgan) and Langella (operating at the peak of his powers) are disciplined enough to crop their performances to close-up size. (The sizing echoes the look of the ‚Ä® actual interviews.) And Howard is smart ‚Ä® to enhance the one-on-ones with journalistic context, weaving archival Watergate-era ‚Ä® footage into his fictionalized re-creation.
Doubt sliced and diced after the cut.
Doubt get a C.¬† does not, in least bit, like Doubt – the performances, the directing, not a single bit of it (well, she likes Viola Davis), writing, “Meanwhile, Streep, apparently left to her own devices, lugs a load of mannerisms under the pruny nun’s severe black habit, encouraged by the movie’s literal-minded director. Sister A may be an intimidating, spirit-breaking character ‚Äî but for all that, she’s also ‚Ä® a servant of God unswerving in her code of right and wrong, and we ought to feel her burden. We don’t. Speaking lines written to reach the stage heavens, the cast is infernally noisy and hectoring about mysteries that ought ‚Ä® to be felt with a communal hush. I doubt that’s what the creator ‚Äî I mean the playwright ‚Äî had in mind.”