Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Trial Of Tony Blair (2007)

Well given that the last time I reviewed a political satire from the pen of Alistair Beaton, A Very Social Secretary, I was asked by one review site to remove all comments regarding the actions of that film's principal character David Blunkett I'm almost hesitant to commence writing this review!

The Trial of Tony Blair saw Beaton turn his attention on AVSS's supporting character. Blair is played once again by Robert Lindsay, with shades of both the left wing idealism and the corruptible self interest his two previous characters shared, Citizen Smith and GBH's Michael Murray, to create a truly fascinating characterisation of Blair. He is shown to be, as Beaton said "a fundamentally decent man who has made a terrible decision".

And oh how that decision has come back to bite him on the bum.

The Trial Of Tony Blair was made in 2007 and set in the then near future of 2010. It's a world where Hillary Clinton is in The White House (remember when we thought that was a foregone conclusion?) and Blair is finally relinquishing the keys of Number 10 for his long waiting understudy Gordon Brown (played here by Peter Mullan; he looks nothing like him, but he portrays the vocal inflections and mannerisms rather well) Ahead of him is a lucrative book deal and a conversion to Catholicism, but there's also something he didn't bank on; The Hague are looking for someone to blame for the atrocities in Iraq. Some collusion from his old friends and party later, and the film posits what would happen if Blair had to face the consequences of going to a war that many of us - and I know I do, I marched at the time - believed to be illegal.

As you can probably surmise from the plot outline, it's a much darker satire than the broad farcical sweep of A Very Social Secretary. Simon Cellan Jones' abrupt jump cuts take in the haunted expression that is almost perpetually registered on Lindsay's face. There are nightmarish visions of suicide bombers and, worse, dead Iraq children. It's all rather deliciously chilling and mordantly funny gallows humour. But there's also some light humour too and much of it stems from Alexander Armstrong's depiction of David Cameron in full 'Hug a Hoodie' mode as, when attempting to meet and greet some London youths of various ethnicity, he announces brightly "Ah you must be the bitches and the ho's, nice to meet you!"

Ultimately, The Trial Of Tony Blair makes for a far more satisfying feature than its predecessor. It may be occasionally close to the bone and uncomfortable to watch but its tone is pitched just right throughout its brief 70 minute running time.

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