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In 1992, Labour leader Tony Blair goes to America and is impressed by the policies of President Bill Clinton, which he uses to reshape his party. Two years later, he is invited back for an audience with Clinton, who, rightly, predicts that he will be Britain's next Prime Minister. Thus begins the 'special relationship' between the two, though Clinton is clearly the senior partner with Blair seeking his advice on Northern Ireland. The situation in Kosovo however reverses the roles as Blair forces American intervention by a reluctant president and is seen in the American media as the hero of the hour. As Clinton accuses his ally of stabbing him in the back the special relationship starts to sour and, with Clinton ultimately out of the White House, Blair takes his first photo call with the next incumbent, George W. Bush. Written by
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For Hillary Clinton, portrayed by Hope Davis, dialogue coach Penny Dyer described her vocal quality as "a gift of a voice . . . a 'great guns' voice that has a noticeably bigger vocal energy than Bill ['Bill Clinton']'s. So whatever Dennis Quaid is doing [as Bill], Hope Davis has to take it beyond that." Actress Hope Davis added: "We're not here to try to mimic our characters or become them. We're trying to show their story, and we walk that line between serving and honoring the story itself and making people know the second they turn on their TV who they are looking at." See more »
When Tony Blair lands at Dulles Airport in 1992, the limo that picks him up bears a State of Washington license plate. See more »
The Special Relationship is a disappointing and shallow film about Tony Blair's relationship with two U.S. presidents. Blair is a conundrum and probably only his wife really knows what makes him tick. Peter Morgan has almost become Blair's official biographer in film, however his take on Blair seems superficial and simple-minded. Morgan's Blair is likable, charismatic, loyal and sincere. He's also a devoted family man and a Christian. In this film he is constantly trying to do the right thing and comes off like a cross between a soap-opera character and a secular saint. Most people in Britain wouldn't buy into this interpretation.
The men and women who become the leaders of countries are usually incredibly ambitious, manipulative and complicated. They often like Clinton and Kennedy have potentially self destructive appetites. Blair we are meant to believe is just like a suburban dad. I have always been somewhat cynical about Blair's motives. When I first came across him during an election campaign in 1983 he was a socialist who recommended nationalization and nuclear disarmament. He gradually moved to the right and around 2003 became a fully fledged neocon.
This film suggests that Blair was basically a good guy trying to help the oppressed peoples of the world. For most people in Britain he is someone who put the interests of the United States above those of his own country. Not surprisingly he is still popular in the US but at home he hasn't been forgiven for supporting the Iraq War and for claiming that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Blair left office with approval ratings in the mid-twenties and British newspaper columnists love to write negative articles about him. The big mystery is what motivated his course of action, until his liaison with Bush he was popular. Since his resignation in 2007 Blair has done well financially out of his unwavering support for US foreign policy. In Polanski's the Ghost Writer it is even suggested that Blair was working for the CIA. It's a mystery this film doesn't help solve. MI5 has gone on record to say that Saddam wasn't a threat to Britain in 2003.
The Special Relationship is a throw-back to the biopics of the 1940s when "great men" were viewed sympathetically. I am looking forward to someday watching a film about the real Tony Blair. He is a more interesting character than the portrait painted in this simple-minded rationalization.
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