From the makers of The Queen comes another smart and engaging story of British politics behind the scenes (The Hollywood Reporter, Barry Garron). Focusing on their rise through Labor Party ranks, The Deal probes the complex rivalry between real-life Prime Ministers Gordon Brown (David Morrissey, The Reaping) and Tony Blair (Michael Sheen, The Queen) two close friends who came to legendary crossroads when their predecessor died and, for the sake of a nation, struck an extraordinary deal.
Three years before working on the Oscar-winning triumph The Queen, some of its key collaborators made this swift and compulsively watchable look at the backstage world of British politicking. Director Stephen Frears, writer Peter Morgan, producer Christine Langan, and leading man Michael Sheen all worked on The Deal, a 2003 made-for-TV film that details the fraught relationship between future Prime Minister Tony Blair (played by Sheen) and Prime-Minister-in-Waiting Gordon Brown (David Morrissey). The two men are elected to Parliament at the same time, and quickly forge a friendship based on their desire to change the Labour Party (which, for most of the film's timeline, is battered around by Margaret Thatcher's Tories) and bring it into the future. The film's drama comes from the personality differences between the shrewd and telegenic Blair and the moody, maladroit Brown--although the film is even-handed in suggesting that both men have serious political purpose. The two actors are sharp, the mixing-in of news footage is deft, and Morgan's headlong script (in the manner of All the President's Men) leaves out virtually all of the domestic subplots that ordinarily slow down a political picture. As a study of the psychology of politics, the movie comes in a long line dominated by that fellow Will Shakespeare, who surely would've approved. --Robert Horton