Coined by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the term “special relationship” has come to represent the exceptionally close political, diplomatic, cultural and historical relations between Great Britain and the United States. Some transatlantic alliances have been more potent and more personal than others: Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt; John F. Kennedy and Harold Macmillan; Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan; and most recently, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton The Special Relationship follows Blair’s journey from his time as a political understudy waiting in the wings of the Labour party, through his rise to leadership of his party, standing confidently in the spotlight of centre stage. It is a story about relationships between two powerful men, two powerful couples, and husbands and wives.
The Special Relationship covers a controversial period from recent history, exploring the events surrounding the beginning of Tony Blair as Prime Minister and the end for Bill Clinton as President.
Writer Peter Morgan has delivered a series of well written films over the course of his career including ‘The Last King of Scotland’, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, ‘Frost/Nixon’ and ‘The Special Relationship’ is certainly no exception. The script is very well written with strong dialogue, and excellent pacing throughout the entire film.
From the opening scene there is a sound balance between political duelling, personal drama, and world events which delivers a compelling story on multiple layers. Morgan deftly weaves together these multiple threads in such a way that every scene is interesting whether they be progressing the broader events in the world, or allowing the film some time to breathe and flesh out the relationships between the two main characters which is so critical to the film’s success.
Director Richard Loncraine has excelled at delivering what feels like a genuine and honest setting, with great attention to detail he explores the subtle (and not so subtle) differences of the machinations at work on either side of the relationship between President and Prime Minister.
The performances from the entire cast are brilliant. The actors deliver, in most cases, a pitch perfect accent, and their mannerisms seem almost identical to the people they are portraying which is no mean feat given that most people will be in some way familiar with both personalities through the media. This more than anything else, makes any physical differences from their real-life counterparts in no way distracting. The supporting cast also deliver great performances rounding out the feel of the film exceptionally well with a limited amount of screen time.
As you would expect special effect shots are by no means a major part of a film like this, though there are some very nice shots of historical scenes using the cast in their relevant personas that round out the feel of the film in a tangible way.
‘The Special Relationship’ is not only an interesting film from a modern history perspective, but it is a dramatically compelling film, and a great insight into the blend of politics, media, and international relationships that can potentially influence critical decisions at the highest level and subsequently important events in the global arena.
I give this film 4 out of 5 stars, and it is opening in cinemas in Australia on 5 August 2010.