Frank Langella's performance is what should be described as a mannerism filled performance from his face, to his voice to the way he walks. All in an attempt to imitate the real Richard Nixon. Now Langella claims in interviews that he was not trying to imitate, yet he was still using a voice not of his own, as well as mannerisms, so its a little hard to believe his statement. I guess he was just trying to excuse the fact that he fails to get Nixon down, who real is not really nearly as mannered as Langella's performance makes him out to be. Frank Langella whole mannered performance is a severe hindrance to his entire performance. He looks almost like a cartoon character at times, because he looks so strange, in not only the way he is made up but also because of the way he walks, and talks, which simply does not work well for Nixon as a character. Langella's whole performance feels out of place because of this, he just never seems natural in his characterization of Nixon, he simply should have cut back on the mannerisms.
Langella performance after his mannerisms seems to have three sets of acting scenes in this film. One is he awkwardly tries to talk to people normally, again Langella mannerisms made Nixon's inability to connect with other people rather unnatural, now that might make it seem like I am saying the right type of unnatural, but I would say unrealistic type of unnatural, not proper to a real person type of unnatural. Another is his yelling scenes or at least loudly pitched scenes, which has too many of. There are great numbers when he loses it, and frankly again it never felt particularly natural, instead it always came off as excessive ACTING to me. I never felt it was ever really effective, in conveying emotion, but rather just trying to override all other emotions with his angered yelling, which also is completely incorrect to how Nixon acted on the actual tapes, if Langella had been more like how he actual was that could have been a great performance. He also has his token quiet scenes, where the filmmaker show their belief to create some sympathy for the character just put in some obvious scenes that basically come off as the "sympathy creation scenes". Langella and his mannerisms again undermine any potential emotion that could have possibly been made in these rather forced moments. Langella never finds the right depth of emotion to really create anything in these scenes either. This is a performance that fails to be a good imitation, and it puts so much of its effort into its imitation causes to never be much more than a caricature of the man.