A down-and-out film producer agrees to make his nephew's film about 19th century English statesman Benjamin Disraeli, but can only get financing if he casts a well-known action star. ... See full summary »
Dropped by ITV who were concerned about its political content. Picked up by Channel 4. See more »
Despite being set in the 1980s and early 1990s, no attempt has been made to disguise the scenes shot in Central London, so modern cars and buses (as of 2003) are regularly seen behind the characters. See more »
In some ways, the story of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair is profoundly uninteresting. Two men with a similar political philosophy consider challenging for the leadership of the party, eventually decide not to compete with one another but subsequently (in events not covered by this film) fall out. Of course, there are many "what ifs", but politics is full of these. The absence of a philosophical clash, or a deep personal emnity, makes their deal in some senses trivial - one guy stood aside for the other, so what? If any other job than that of potential Prime Minister had been at stake, would anyone care? Because of that job, their decision clearly had some significance. But politicians make deals all the time with one another
and had we not a media obsessed with political minutiae, that history
might well have been forgotten. According to the briefings, it certainly hasn't been forgotten by Brown - but that doesn't necessarily make it important.
Stephen Frears' film tries hard to reconstruct these events, but it fails to really gain life, telling us what we know already without really adding anything new. David Morrissey, as Brown, is less convincing than when given free rein to play a fictional politician as he did recently in 'State of Play'; Michael Sheen, as Blair, is always just a little bit more callow and hollow than the real thing. The story suggests there was little real friendship between the two, which reduces the tale to a series of empty manoeverings. And while it's fun to see representations of various political characters, we get too little sense of their whole lives. There are a few nice touches (Blair's instinctive family values, Brown's genuine grief at John Smith's death) but 'The Deal' still feels like a compilation of yesterday's newspapers. History will certainly remember both men, but their deal will surely rate only a footnote. For good or ill, Blair stood and won - and that's all we really need to know.
17 of 24 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?