Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Special Relationship

It must be difficult to write an intriguing screenplay regarding recent historical events because many people already know how the story plays out and because more people are familiar with the story, they are more likely to scrutinize the facts. Still, Peter Morgan has managed to churn out some of the most fascinating screenplay regarding recent events (Frost/Nixon, The Last King of Scotland). This film is the the final film in his Tony Blair trilogy, following The Deal and The Queen (excellent) all starring Michael Sheen, who seemingly only acts in films with Morgan screenplay(see The Queen, Frost/Nixon, and The Damned United, all excellent performances and films). This story revolves around the former Prime Minister and for U.S. President Bill Clinton's title bond which was formed when the two met on the verge of Blair's election, and Clinton decided to back his like minded Labor Party candidate. The film charts their relationship through various crises including opposition to the IRA in Northern Ireland, the Kosovo bombings, and for the bulk of the film, The Monica Lewinsky Scandal. I liked how the film used the two men and their wives as contrasts to each other: Clinton, the good old boy, down to earth and somewhat crude while Blair is the proper and slightly bemused British gentleman. The wives provide contrasts as well with Hillary playing the more dominant, businesslike figure and Cherie Blair plays the more motherlike character. The acting is fine, though it ranges. Dennis Quaid succeeds, though goes for more of an impersonation of Clinton rather than an embodiment. Hope Davis and Helen McCrory successfully fill the shoes of Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Blair, respectively. Lastly, Sheen again wonderfully portrays Blair capturing all his inflections and mannerisms, knowing when act bemused and knowing when to act stern. The Special Relationship is a nice recreation of what may have gone on behind closed doors during the not so distant Clinton/Blair years.