Now we’re onto the final part of the Peter Morgan Blair trilogy. So far we’ve covered the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in The Deal, with Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen and now, with The Special Relationship, we look at probably the most important relationship Blair had in his early days, his relationship with Bill Clinton and, whilst I still think The Deal is the best one of these films, this is a very close second.
The plot, like all of the other films, focuses on a few specific points in the relationship between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, mainly the influence that Clinton had on Blair’s efforts to modernise the Labour party, the Monica Lewinski scandal and the Kosovo War and the efforts of Blair and Clinton to get the EU and US to support intervention. What I really like is that, throughout everything, we always see this great sense of respect that Blair and Clinton have for each other but this respect doesn’t mean that they don’t always agree with each other. This is seen at the end of the film where Clinton, despite acknowledging how successful Blair was, notes that Blair moved Labour away from centre-left politics and more into the centre. I also really like how the film shows that the UK has moved towards one relationship whilst ignoring another since Blair has multiple chances to ally himself more with Europe, personified by Jacques Chirac, which helped to set up the current situation of Britain being alone in Europe. I also like how it acknowledges the necessity for peace deals and the need to prevent wars, not just with the focus on Kosovo in the final act but also in the desire both of them have for peace in Ireland and the difficulties they have in trying to establish peace. All of these show the flawed nature of Clinton and Blair and how they try to do the best possible job they can in terrible situations.
On a performance level, I think I’ve talked about how good Michael Sheen is as Tony Blair, Helen McCrory as Cherie Blair and Mark Bazely as Alastair Campbell are so often I don’t need to do it again so I’ll focus on the newcomers to the Blair trilogy. Dennis Quaid as Bill Clinton is excellent, from the first time he comes on screen I fully bought him as Clinton, he nails everything from his accent to the charm, I believed that I was seeing Bill Clinton and after seeing how bad Josh Brolin was as George W Bush, that does say a lot. Hope Davis meanwhile is great as Hilary Clinton, showing the strength of character and her ideals which enabled her to become the political juggernaut she is today and the chemistry that she has with Quaid is excellent, highlighting the dual power that both of the Clinton’s have and letting you know why Bill Clinton gave Hilary a much greater role in the office of the First Lady.
Overall, The Special Relationship is a great conclusion to the Blair trilogy. The way that the film goes through all of the major events in the Blair/Clinton relationship is excellent, the performances are the best of the entire trilogy, especially Michael Sheen and Dennis Quaid and this is the one that should have got the cinematic release instead of The Queen. I hope that another one of these is made in a few years focusing on the Iraq War (BTW, my choice for an actor to play George W Bush, give it a few years then cast Matthew McConaughey) but if not we still have this brilliant trilogy of films.
My Rating: 4.5/5