All The Presidents Men (12/03/02)

From: P D Pert
Category: Films
Date: 12 March 2002


For Richard Nixon, the Watergate scandal became the defining event in his political career, and, ultimately, the final nail in his coffin. The fact that the depth and breadth of the scandal eventually destroyed his public image and pretty much crushed him as a man (see the David Frost interview in which he breaks down) is not what this film is about. All The Presidents Men follows the trail of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post journalists assigned to the Watergate scandal. For those who are a little hazy on what actually happened with Watergate or even if you have no idea what the Watergate scandal was about, this film could be either incredibly fascinating or equally frustrating. The film requires the viewer/listener to be attentive at all times - the intricate web of political players and activities often becoming confusing - and there is a danger that once the film has ended, you'll find yourself wondering what actually happened. The fact that the audio track is appalingly bad doesn't help matters, considering the amount (and importance) of dialogue in this film. However, this film is definitely worth bothering about, if not just for the fantastic interplay between Robert Redford (Woodward) and Dustin Hoffman (Bernstein) - two high calibre actors performing at their peak. At first, their competitive and story-hungry personalities clash, but as they are drawn into their all-consuming Watergate story, Bernstein's pushiness compliments Woodward's level-head.

As they progress, the duo receive opposition from both their Editor (played fantastically by Jason Robards) who complains the story is "too thin" and the amount of people unwilling to speak out "on the record". However, Woodward is helped on his way by an anonymous source - referred to as "Deep Throat" - whom he rendez vouz's with in a carpark. The mystery eventually unravels after much frustration and their editor sticks his neck on the line, allowing them to print the names of the alleged masterminds of the Watergate break-in. The Washington Post is openly criticised, but as the only paper to investigate Watergate, Woodward and Bernstein emerge as unlikely heroes once the truth is revealed.

If you don't care about Watergate, the superb acting on dispay could very well draw you into caring. If you still don't care, simply admire how Redford and Hoffman play off each other to perfection.

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