Next up is another bunch of films in a series, this time, what I call the Blair Trilogy, 3 films with focus on Tony Blair's relationship with major figures in his career. Today's film, The Deal, focuses on his relationship with Gordon Brown, tomorrow's film, The Queen, focuses on his relationship with Queen Elizabeth the Second and the day after is The Special Relationship, concerning his relationship with Bill Clinton. All of these films have their own benefits but, for my money, The Deal is the best of the trilogy.
The plot focuses on the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, from when they met as office mates in 1983, after the disastrous election due to Labour's radical manifesto (called 'the longest suicide note in history') up to the deal made between the two in 1994 whereby Brown would stand aside to allow Blair to become leader of the party in return for a greater level of power as Chancellor and for Blair to step down after his first term and let Brown take over. Throughout the film, we see the friendship between Blair and Brown form and, as a result, when the deal is made, it makes perfect sense that these two would work together and that a deal would be formed. It also shows why either one of them would be a good leader for Labour with both of them having different figures supporting them, Blair having Peter Mandleson and Brown having Ed Balls. Throughout the film though, you get the sense that Blair and Mandleson are trying to sideline Brown and plan to make Blair's more populist vision come to life and we see the changes in society and in Blair's personality that would make Blair the more ideal person to take over as leader of Labour instead of Brown.
The performances meanwhile are excellent. Michael Sheen is perfect as Tony Blair and it's not surprising that he has played Blair in all 3 of the films and is the only person to be in all of these films. He brings this very charismatic quality to Blair, which makes you fully understand why he became the head of the Labour party. There is also this sense of ruthlessness in his performance which lets you know why he allied himself with Peter Mandleson and went against his deal with Brown. David Morrisey as Gordon Brown meanwhile, whilst having a very dodgy Scottish accent, is great. He sells the passion for his work and his skill in the political world, which shows why Brown was a major contender for the Labour leader and also highlights that Brown could have been a very strong PM, if he wasn't saddled with the legacy left behind by Blair and if he made the smart decision and called an election as soon as Blair resigned. With the rest of the cast, good work is done by Paul Rhys as Peter Mandleson, Frank Kelly as John Smith and Elizabeth Berrington as Cherie Blair but the focus throughout the film is kept on the relationship between Blair and Brown.
Overall, The Deal is a really good film headed by top notch performances by Michael Sheen and David Morrisey which really encapsulates the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the days before they reached power and provides a good show of the changing politics in the Labour party following the longest suicide note in history.
My Rating: 4.5/5
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