The Deal

It seems Michael Sheen was born to play Tony Blair's toothy grin and eager-little-boy countenance. It's become a character itself after three films and not just a good rendition of Britain's late 90s new Labour PM.

This time the creative team of director Stephen Frears writer and Peter Morgan details the early years of Labour's fight to unseat the Tories after Thatcher handed the reigns to John Major. Blair and the brash, no-nonsense Gordon Brown (David Morrisey last seen by me as Catherine Tremell's latest squeeze/victim in the trashy Basic Instinct 2) meet as young parliamentarians and hit it off with their vision of a newly modernised Labour party.

There's an unofficial agreement between them that Brown will be the one to go for the position of leadership when the time comes, but as the years roll on and the left faces another electoral defeat, Blair gets increasingly frustrated with Brown's refusal to challenge party leader (and Brown's political mentor) John Smith.

Blair decides Labour has more of a chance of winning with himself at the helm rather than the gruff Scot, and if the film has its history right, he offered Brown uninterrupted control of several portfolios and a promise to stand aside after one term if the latter supported his leadership bid.

The supertext at the end of the film (which was made before Brown's eventual ascendancy) that he was still waiting is another damning critique of Blair's tenure. As I write this review anti-war protesters are pelting him with eggs and causing him to cancel London signings of his new book, so together with the position he ended up in at the end of The Special Relationship it gives Blair an ultimate legacy of failure.

Frears uses more historical news footage than before, which gives the proceedings an even greater sense of urgency and relevance than The Queen or The Special Relationship, and once again we get what feels like a thrilling glimpse behind the curtain of history being made.

© 2011-2018 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au