Synopsis: A dramatization that traces former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair’s relationships with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Director: Richard Loncraine
Writer: Peter Morgan
Stars: Michael Sheen, Demetri Goritsas and Adam Godley
Serious Jest: (Free View) Growing up a Peruvian immigrant in the 1980s-1990s U.S., where about 95% of the managerial jobs were held by White men, racism was very alive (and even blatantly happening in circumstances like racial profiling, which I personally experienced too many times to count), and the number of successful minority role models were not as prevalent in all careers (the thought of a Black President was a pipe dream), I learned very quickly that you stick by your own. “Your own” depended on the circumstances: I cheered for the Black boxer over the White boxer (Latinos & Black people were both minorities and in the same boat in many ways, as I saw it)…the Latino candidate over the Black candidate…the Peruvian soccer team over the Brazilian team…you get the picture. I also developed a strong sense of nationalism, even earning my Eagle, Globe, and Anchor in the U.S. Marine Corps.
As I have gotten older, I still have a strong sense of ethnic, cultural, and national pride, but I’ve also come to appreciate the importance of the success of good people. What I mean is that, while I still firmly believe in the importance of diversity to ensure that no one, because of his/her race/ethnicity/culture/gender, etc., is kept from contributing to humanity or realizing his/her dreams in the ways that he/she is most talented, it is more important that the people in positions to affect others’ lives are capable, honest, loyal, and altruistic. In sum, while I am part of many communities and social networks (minority, Latino, Peruvian, American, Marine, Kappa Alpha Psi, etc.), I’d like to think that the Brotherhood of Good trumps all–but don’t get it twisted, that fraternity does not include self-righteous hypocrites. I’m not a Baptist, but I love Tebow Time because Tim Tebow seems to be a humble, selfless leader who honors God and is thankful for his blessings, unlike too many selfish, whiny, arrogant man-child athletes.
The concept that struck me the most about this film was the idea that two world leaders, who stood for principles that they believed were best for humanity, would stand together, across national boundaries, as allies, friends, mentor/mentee, and confidantes. I don’t know how accurately their relationship was portrayed, but how awesome would the world be if its leaders actually did this?
Of course, the movie also shows how this task is easier said than done. Human nature kicks in, political ramifications loom ominously, and those with opposing ideologies work harder on ruining their political opponents than advancing the good of their nation. The dialogue is clever and engaging. The script skillfully illustrates the terribly difficult decisions that our world leaders must make, the intricacies and constantly changing factors in political friendships, and how, ironically, the threat of a negative public reaction is something that weighs against a leader intervening against genocide.
The acting is terrific. Although Dennis Quaid does not look like President Clinton (but the makeup artists got it at close as possible, I guess), he plays the part convincingly. Even in her limited time in the spotlight, Hope Davis captures the sharpness, determination, and strength of Hillary Clinton. Even if you don’t like the Clintons, you have to admit that it is an awesome concept to have a First Lady who is just as intelligent and capable of being President as her husband (not to suggest that this should be the usual case for all First Ladies, or that any other First Ladies were somehow deficient)…or maybe it’s just me and my attraction to powerful women.
Be forewarned, this film definitely takes a political stance, and portrays events in a way with which you may disagree. I tend to be very suspicious of any films that portray controversial events, as I know that the particulars of those events may be subject to heavy dispute. That being said, if you are able to accept the film as one theory of what went on behind closed doors, out of the reach of the press, then you may be able to enjoy the story more. If you can’t, this may not be the film for you.
Obviously, my opinion is that this movie was very well done. If I was the average movie reviewer, I might immediately rate it at least 4 out of 5 stars for quality…but in the ManCave Rating System, we don’t use stars…we use beer mugs…and our ratings are based primarily on entertainment value, rather than artistic quality of the film (although the latter is definitely a factor in the former). All in all, this film seems to illustrate well-known viewpoints about well-known events, in a way that is interesting, but not terribly exciting. I would enthusiastically recommend it as time well-spent to watch, but I don’t necessarily think everyone needs to watch it at some point, either.