Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Deal - Available on DVD July 29th

Fans of The Queen and Anglophiles everywhere will soon have a reason to cheer--The Deal, the historic docudrama about former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his friend, political rival and current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is coming to DVD as part of Genius Products and The Weinstein Company's Miriam Collection. Originally airing on British TV in 2003, this Stephen Frears/Peter Morgan collaboration is a sort of prequel to their later work in The Queen.

The film revolves around the pivotal moment when Blair and Brown had to come to a decision and make "the deal" that would not only alter their personal and professional lives, but affect the future of British politics. It's a particularly timely story given the recent Democratic primary. Although I don't pretend to have more than a basic grasp of the political system of my own country, I found The Deal to be fairly engrossing, albeit lacking in emotional substance. It does, however, provide an insider look at the machinations of politics and public relations.

The Deal plays with a restrained, very British stiff-upper-lip quality, although it's very interesting to watch the development and the differences between the two main characters. Gordon Brown was the presumptive leader of the Labour Party. Reticent but brilliant, dour yet intense, Brown stood in sharp contrast to the affable and charming Tony Blair. David Morrissey gives Brown his awkward humanity while, as advertised, Michael Sheen IS Tony Blair. It's a fairly even-handed and balanced presentation of the events leading up to Blair's ascendancy to leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister of England.

The plot loops around beginning with the scheduling of the fateful meeting where the decision of who would stand for the Labour Party and who would step aside would be made. Flashing back to when Brown and Blair first met and their subsequent rise in politics, the film spans 11 years in less than 90 minutes. Loosely based on the book The Rivals by James Naughtie, The Deal is also loosely based on actual events. It attempts to portray history as accurately as possible, but it even begins with a quote from William Goldman from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: "Much of what follows is true..."

The DVD is light on special features: a commentary by writer Peter Morgan, biographies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and a conversation with director Stephen Frears, but it's an insightful and fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the players of British politics. According to the interview with Frears, a third installment of the saga (part one being The Deal and part two being The Queen) may be in the works--this time focusing on the relationship between Blair and Bill Clinton. The Deal will be released on July 29th--if you liked The Queen, you should definitely check out The Deal.


  1. Thanks for the heads-up. I've been waiting for this to come out on DVD. I loved "The Queen." (I'll admit I'm kind of an Anglophile). I also saw Peter Morgan's "Frost/Nixon" on Broadway, which I didn't like quite as much. Although I really enjoyed Michael Sheen as Frost (even though Frank Langella's Nixon got all the acclaim).

  2. Loved The Queen AND an Anglophile? Then you will really like The Deal. Michael Sheen makes a great Tony Blair. I hope they do the third installment. It would be interesting to see who they cast as Clinton...