The Special Relationship
is an historical drama that tells the story of Tony Blair, Bill Clinton,
and the Anglo-American relationship. The story begins with Blair as an
aspiring politician on a study tour to the US, getting pointers on how
to reshape the UK Labour Party. The Democrats were keen to see Labour
returned to office, just as they had defeated the Republicans in the
race for the White House in 1992.
Blair makes another
trip to Washington on the eve of the 1997 elections, where he’s given
the red carpet treatment, reserved for serving heads of state. The rest,
as they say, is history.
Michael Sheen reprises
his role as Tony Blair, who he also played n Stephen Frears’ The
Queen (2006) and 2003 telemovie, The Deal. Helen McCrory is
also back in familiar territory, having played Cherie Blair opposite
Sheen in The Queen. Sheen lacks conviction, and seems to be
cruising through his role, but McCrory is again superb as the UK’s first
Dennis Quaid is
convincing as the controversial Bill Clinton, evoking his manner without
resorting to mimicry, at a time when he was mired in the Monica Lewinsky
affair. This scandal eventually led to Clinton’s impeachment – the only
president to suffer this fate since Andrew Johnson in the 1860s.
Hope Davis plays first
lady Hillary Clinton and Adam Godley Blair‘s advisor, Jonathan Powell.
Davis sounds more like a housewife than the ambitious Hillary. We only
get a glimpse of the real Hillary when she’s elected as a member of the
I must admit, I had
very high expectations of this film. Although there are some interesting
and tense moments between Sheen and Quaid, the film treats most issues
in a rather superficial way. Overall, The Special Relationship is
entertaining, but it lacks the subtlety and insight it could have had.