Friday, 30 August 2013

The Special Relationship (2010)

It's quite weird watching this a day after the UK has voted against military action in Syria, given that The Special Relationship is about the more morally righteous or war mongering (depending on your POV) British PM Tony Blair's staunch desire to meet the world's evils head on coming against the more hesitant and left of centre US President Bill Clinton.

This was the third Sheen/Morgan Blair project following The Deal and The Queen and I have to say its probably the lesser of the trilogy with some truly clunky exposition dialogue. The film provides an interesting 'what if?' insight to the Blair/Clinton relationship, suggesting the latter as a mentor whom the former ultimately trampled over to progress with his own 'legacy' and desire to make his mark, it doesn't have the same significance as the previous films which focused on Blair trampling over Brown to take the leadership of the Labour Party in the light of John Smith's untimely death and Blair spotting another golden opportunity from the back of Princess Di's demise, respectively. However, it does follow a similar path in deconstructing Blair;  a great study of one of recent histories most influential political figures (and for me,and I suspect Morgan too, one of the most loathed and traitorous) fleshed out brilliantly by Michael Sheen. He isn't at any time impersonating Blair, he just seems to capture the essence of him.

Dennis Quaid is as ever an amiable enough presence. Ever since the '80s, he's been a harmless figure in cinema and seemingly a go to man for when any production couldn't stretch to Harrison Ford. Given a weighty role here, it's a shame he doesn't utterly convince (looking at times more like the Catchphrase host Roy Walker) and seems to be overdoing the vocal inflections which is at odds with Sheen's more understated style, but there's still an air of decency, beneath the grubby Lewinsky business that is, in both his performance and the script which has him advising Blair to be careful of his eagerness for conflict, especially in light of Dubya's election. 

For me the real star was Hope Davis as Hillary Clinton. She manages to look like her (albeit a prettier version) but like Sheen didn't go for out and out mimicry and, as such, created something truly memorable.

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