The Special Relationship (2010)
Director: Richard Loncraine.
Starring: Michael Sheen (Tony Blair). Demetri Goritsas (Strategist), Adam Godley (Jonathan Powell), Marc Rioufol (Jacques Chirac), Mark Bazeley (Alastair Campbell), Helen McCrory (Cherie Blair), Nancy Crane (Protocol Officer), Dennis Quaid (Bill Clinton), John Schwab (Reporter), Hope Davis (Hillary Clinton), Kerry Shale (Advisor to the Clintons), Lara Pulver (Intern), Eric Meyers (American Journalist), Rufus Wright (British Journalist), Matthew Marsh (Foreign Policy Advisor).
close relationship between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Washington, D.C., 1992. Tony Blair looks for his limousine and driver, who is too occupied with talking to other drivers. The driver doesn't even put Blair's luggage in the trunk of the limousine.
Blair is listening to a political adviser about how Clinton changed his image and redefined himself. And, of course, it always helps when you have a real political superstar, like Clinton. Blair seems to really be interested in the information.
Paris, four years later. Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair are at a press conference. Tony says that many British politicians are pushing a policy of being hostile to Europe, but as for Blair, he is a European and will always be a European.
Blair is happy that he is going to meet Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. Tony wonders why the golden reception at the White House. His adviser says: "Well, it's obvious, isn't it? They think you're going to win."
Tony's wife Cherie says ever since Tony came back from his visit to the USA he has been reshaping himself. "You came back, Clinton hair, Clinton suit, everything minus the tarty girlfriend." Cherie tells him don't worry so much because Clinton is going to love him.
Blair is given a good reception. Clinton is friendly and very complimentary of Blair. Blair says Britain has had 17 years of conservative rule and it's time that changed. Clinton says he thought that to help Blair get a boost in public opinion, he would invite him over and they would hold a press conference together. Blair is very appreciative of Clinton's confidence in him and thankful for the American promotion of him.
Clinton wins a second term in the White House. And Blair wins and becomes the Labor Prime Minister after 18 years of Conservative rule. Jacques Chirac calls and congratulate Blair on his victory. While talking with Chirac, Clinton calls and they give Clinton the priority. Clinton congratulates Tony and talks in detail of particulars about the win. This impresses Blair, who later mentions to one of his advisers: "He's got no business knowing that. That's just showing off. "
Clinton and wife Hilary comes to pay Tony a visit. An announcer says the Clinton and Blair: " . . a pair of postwar baby boomers who came to power by moderating the liberal tendencies of their respective political parties."
Tony praises Clinton to his wife calling Clinton a "true visionary". Cherie speaks of Hilary. She can't believe how large Hilary's staff is. In fact, she says, it's a co-presidency with Bill and Hilary together. She's always giving him advice which most time Bill accepts. When Clinton was Governor of Arkansas, the staff refer to the married couple as "Billary".
Clinton and Hilary talk about the Blairs. Bill really likes Tony, but Hillary says that there's something about Tony that is not quite right. He's too perfect.
At dinner the two couples get along way. Hilary warns Tony not to start his career with health care and Bill says if the press asks Tony about gays in the military, don't say anything. The Clintons laugh heartily.
Northern Ireland. Tony observes that the people of Northern Ireland have resisted terrorism in their land for 25 years. He also tells Sinn Fein that the settlement train is leaving the station and he will not have the train waiting for Sinn Fein.
Sinn Fein attacks Blair's ultimatum and the IRA murders two police officers. The Irish leader of the Catholics, Gerry Adams, says the shootings were shocking, but he won't make any comment on the political aftereffects.
Blair is upset. He asks how could the IRA kill two people just because he said the settlement train was leaving the station? He wonders if maybe he went to far in what he said. Clinton tells him the IRA took the punitive action because they're scared. The President also says he wants to help Tony. Maybe he will says a few sentences on the troubles in Northern Ireland.
Blair watches Clinton on TV asking if Sinn Fein is going to be a part of the peace process or not? Gerry Adams goes to see Tony at Number 10 Downing Street. "The first such meeting for 76 years." And when Adams comes out of the meeting, he says: "We had a good meeting because I think we engaged. . . . usually the moments in Anglo-Irish relationships in history are bad moments. Today was a significantly good moment."
Blair learns he Kenneth Starr is after the Clintons for the Whitewater Affair and for Bill having sex with 23 year old Monica Lewinsky. Cherie chases the kids out of the kitchen when the word "penis" is mentioned.
Hilary is very upset hearing about Monica Lewinsky. Bill says that Monica took his kindness to her as great personal interest on his part. Bill lies to or misleads to his wife saying he did not have sex with the woman. (Of course, in Bill's world sex only means sexual fornication, not things like blow jobs.) Hilary says that Ken Starr is going to go after Bill with everything that he's got. She walks out of the bedroom.
Blair says now in the USA they are talking about the length of Bill's penis and that it has a curve in the middle of it. A pretty intern comes up to Tony and gives him a folder of information. To avoid temptation, Tony turns it over to one of his advisers.
Hilary learns about the tapes, the president's predilections for oral sex and a dress with Bill's semen on it. Hilary goes into action. She says it's the word of a star struck intern versus the President of the United States. She wants to go on the attack. She is not going to have a public discussion of her marriage. They are going to go after the media and "Ken Fucking Starr". She says these right wing bastards have always been after them.
On TV Hilary says: "Bill and I have been accused of everything, including murder, by some of the very same people who are behind these allegations. The great story here, for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it, is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for President."
Mrs. Clinton took a lot of heat for blaming her current troubles on a vast right-wing conspiracy. They felt she was just using a convenient justification for their problems.
Blair is flying to Washington, D.C. to do a joint press conference with Clinton. His advisers want Blair to distance himself from Clinton somewhat. Blair says that Clinton is a friend. One of the advisers says: "Tony, all political friendship is strategic and conditional." Cherie is with Tony and she says the Lewinsky scandal all comes down to the definition of "sex". Does sex include blow jobs? The three guys say no. Cherie looks shocked and says: "God. You men are pathetic."
The first thing Bill tells Tony is that he's sorry that Blair had to be put through all this (that is, the sex scandal). At the press conference Tony refuses to blame Clinton. He just talks about the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom and the special relationship between himself and Clinton. Clinton shoots Blair a grateful look.
Blair and Clinton want to do something about this butcher Milosevic of Serbia. The two fellows are in complete agreement. They will apply strict economic sanctions, get NATO onboard and think about their military options. And Clinton wants Blair to use his post as President of the EU and see which countries might join them in strikes against Serbia.
More bad news comes out as Lewinsky starts cooperating with Star. Clinton negotiates with Star. His testimony for having the subpoena revoked, having his lawyers present and testifying in the White House. Bill has to tell Hillary that he did not tell her the complete truth, but now he will tell her what he's going to say before the prosecutor. Hillary is perplexed, frustrated and resentful.
On TV he says he had a relationship with Lewinsky that was not appropriate. Cherie tells Tony that the press will be expecting him to make a statement on Clinton's confession. He says that he finds this whole thing excruciatingly embarrassing, but he has no option but to stand by him.
Hillary tells Bill: "I have to find my way through this in my own time."
Tony states the case for NATO military intervention in Kosovo to end the genocide being committed by Serbia. Now pressure is coming from both Europe and the United States. A ceasefire agreement is reached with Milosovic.
Blair calls Clinton and says that Milosovic is just playing them for suckers. He is not going to pay attention to the observers in the area. Blair wants to put soldiers on the ground in Kosovo and Serbia. Clinton says that dog won't hunt. Until Milosovic does something to prove that he violated the agreement, they will do nothing.
Tony says to Cherie that if Bill won't take any action against Serbia, then it's all up to him to do something.
45 people are hacked to death by Serbian paramilitary people right under the noses of the observers. Bill calls Hilary saying it's time to do something about Milosovic. Hillary tells him it's time to do something. Bill tells her that it was nice to hear her say it.
Clinton calls Blair and agrees to bombing from 15,000 feet. The bombings begin, but Milosovic goes even harder at the people of Kosova. Tony and Cherie come out to see the scale of the humanitarian crisis. Asked for a message for the people of Kosovo, Blair says: "We will not let you down."
Blair is despondent. He says they bullied the EU into this war and has only made the situation worse. The air campaign is not working. Blair says they just have to increase the bombing in Serbia and be willing to put troops on the ground. One of his advisers says that the EU will not agree to this without Clinton.
Blair talks personally with Clinton on sending in ground troops. The major share of the fighting will be done by the Americans. One of Clinton's advisers says that Blair is willing to fight to the last American.
Clinton asks Blair to step outside with him for a moment. He tells Blair that NATO will not commit to ground troops, and neither will he. But he is committed to winning this war whatever it takes. So ground troops is a possibility in the future, but for now this will just be between Clinton and Blair. No one else is to know.
Blair is mad at Clinton. He is going to push Clinton's back right up to the fire in his speech he is going to give in Chicago. In the speech it's as if he is speaking straight to Clinton asking him to reject isolationism and get involved. The speech is warmly received.
The American press praises Blair heavily and criticizes Clinton viciously. Naturally, Clinton is angry. It's Blair that's the man of the hour, not Clinton. The President says that Tony stabbed him right in the back in his own backyard.
NATO steps up the bombing of Serbia. Russia tells Serbia to get out of Kosovo.
Blair learns that all Serbian troops are to be withdrawn from Kosovo. And there will be a NATO-led peacekeeping force in the region. Kosovo will be placed under the administration of the United Nations.
Tony is now even a bigger hero.
The election is held between Al Gore and George Bush is finished, but Florida still has not turn in an official vote count.
The Clintons come to see Blair and his wife. When the women leave the table, Tony apologizes to Bill for what happened over the question of Kosovo. He admits he was out of order speaking to the American press like he did. The credit for saving Kosovo should have been shared between the two heads of state. Clinton says he doesn't think that Tony means a word of what he just said.
Al Gore gives up the fight and George W. Bush is the new President of the United States. Clinton learns this over the TV. Blair comes down to be with Clinton. Blair says that he will keep a close relationship to Bush for the sake of his nation and the world. Clinton warns Blair that Bush and guys like Cheney and Karl Rove. Why would a left of center politician want to be friends with guys like that? And now Clinton wonders whether Blair ever was a left of center politician.
As Clinton goes to his helicopter he sees and hears Tony on the phone talking with Bush. Bill calls Hillary Senator Clinton. Hillary laughs. Bill comments: "Only First Lady in US history to win elected office."
The helicopter takes off. Blair goes back to work.
Bill watches Bush and Blair at a press conference at Camp David.
Good film. Interesting view backstage where we see the effects of the Monica Lewinsky scandal on Bill and Hilary Clinton. In essence it sidelined Bill to a great extent. He was silenced so much that he had to turn to Britain's Tony Blair to have him push the ideas that Bill wanted to push, but couldn't without negatively effecting the outcomes. So Tony got to play the role of the leader of the free world. Of course this made Clinton feel grateful to Blair while still making him resentful because Blair was getting the notoriety for what were basically Clinton's plans. Blair wanted to rush into the Balkans crisis, but Clinton insisted that they move slowly. So it was a very special relationship. The two men had to be careful about what they said to each other for fear of ruining the relationship and the policies associated with it. Verbally Clinton does strike back at Blair for those times Clinton thought Blair was starting to take advantage of the situation to push his own fame and agenda.
When Clinton finished his two term, Blair moved on to have another special relationship, this one with George W. Bush. Clinton has some strong mixed feelings when he sees news reports about Bush and Blair being together.
The film show Hilary as being very strong during the crisis. Of course, she was mad, upset and disappointed in Bill. But very quickly, she starts thinking of ways to handle the situation. She's got some brass. It seemed that Mrs. Blair was more outraged by Bill's behavior than was Hilary, but Mrs. Blair didn't have anything to lose in this situation.
I was happy with the actors playing the main parts of the Clintons and the Blairs.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
Return To Main Page
Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)