DRAMA; 1hr 32min
STARRING: Michael Sheen, Dennis Quaid, Hope Davis, Helen McCrory
Special needs: from left, Quaid and Sheen
Who knows what the man would make of his onscreen self, but in my book Michael Sheen is more Tony Blair than Blair. Directed by Richard Loncraine, The Special Relationship is the first-class wind-up of screenwriter Peter Morgan’s Blair trilogy. Rounding off The Deal and The Queen, it checks in on the ascendant British Prime Minister of 1996, smitten by the schmoozy, generous allure of US President Bill Clinton, which, although not a two-peas physical match, Quaid carries off exactly.
Tony and Bill are super-tight at first, their wives not so much, Hilary Clinton (Davis) being innately political while Cherie Blair (McCrory) is more instinctual. Differences aside, both dauntless women are fiercely supportive of their men, captured in rolled-sleeves intimacy, as they bring their behind-the-scenes lives to the fore. Then along comes the firestorm of Monica Lewinsky and the ethical watershed of Kosovo, and everything starts to change. The trajectory of the Blair–Clinton dynamic is laid out in modern history, but by taking the public spectacle into private places, screenwriter Morgan brings an eagle-eyed perspective to a slippery political slope.