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The Special Relationship

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Sheen, Dennis Quaid, Hope Davis, Helen McCrory
  • Directors: Richard Loncraine
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: December 6, 2011
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003N9ASF2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,983 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From the Oscar®-nominated writer and producers of Frost/Nixon and The Queen comes a powerful new look at the human side of iconic world leaders. In 1993, Tony Blair was a rising young star in British politics. Three years later he ran for Prime Minister – and began a “special relationship” with U.S. President Bill Clinton that endured through triumph, conflict and personal scandal. HBO Films presents Michael Sheen, Golden Globe® nominee Dennis Quaid, Emmy® and Golden Globe nominee Hope Davis, and Helen McCrory in the behind-the-scenes story of two world leaders who forged a loyal, if tempestuous, friendship out of the crucible of political necessity: The Special Relationship.


Terrific performances and an excellent script combine in The Special Relationship, another winner from HBO Films. The title refers to the bond between the United States and Britain in general, but the focus here is on the friendship and political partnership between President Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid) and Prime Minster Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) in the 1990s. It's an intriguing dynamic. Clinton was already into his second term when Blair took office in 1997, at which point England was clearly the tail to America's dog; younger, far less experienced, and somewhat starry-eyed, Blair welcomed Clinton's endorsement, coveted his approval, and was thrilled to get them both. But the roles were reversed not much later when Clinton, caught up in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and unwilling to take a firm stand on the war and ethnic cleansing taking place in Kosovo, was eclipsed by the charismatic, more forthright P.M.--who gave a rousing speech in support of the president, only to find that Clinton had been lying about the Lewinsky affair all along. All of this is delineated in entertaining and often amusing fashion by scriptwriter Peter Morgan (whose earlier films include The Deal and The Queen, both of which also featured Sheen as Blair); his fictional re-creations of private conversations between the principals are fascinating, including Clinton and Blair discussing how to create a permanent center-left majority and especially Clinton's gradual confessions of adultery to wife Hillary (Hope Davis). The casting is also exceptional. Sheen is thoroughly at ease in his role by now, as is Helen McCrory, who also played Blair's wife Cherie in The Queen. The real revelation is Quaid. Though perhaps not an obvious choice, he not only looks and sounds convincingly like Clinton but also captures his charm, swaggering confidence, and consummate political know-how, while Davis is nearly perfect as the woman whose ambition and steely resolve were not about to be sidetracked by Bubba's dogging around. All in all, The Special Relationship is delightful, dishy fun. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

Excellent acting and the film moves at a good pace.
Directed by Richard Loncraine, this fine film examines the nature of friendship in the world of politics.
Michael B. Druxman
Michael Sheen once again plays Tony Blair and Dennis Qaid plays a very convincing Bill Clinton.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Richardson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 23, 2010
Format: DVD
Unlike others boasting of Clintons greatness or blasting him and Blair for their horrible atrocities ...I'll review the movie. I received a "screener" and its an hour and a half ..not the 5 or 600 minutes that Amazon.com lists.

Its a good movie...Quaid is very good and Sheen as its already been noted has played Blair twice before and is fabulous. Hope Davis is also terrific as Hillary. If you enjoyed Frost/Nixon, The Queen, or The Deal...you should enjoy this drama.

I can't give it a 5 star review although I was tempted because its a bit lighter weight than say Frost/Nixon which is a solid 5 in my humble opinion.

If you have an axe to grind in either direction on this you may wish to avoid...if you can check your party politics at the door and just enjoy this deliciously well acted big time political "soap opera" then I heartily recommend. Personally ....Quaid laying on the bed with a small television in his lap and continually pounding down Doritos was almost worth it for me...good fun, interestingly written a great diversion for an hour plus...and better in my opinion than most of the 3D and CGI filled theatrical releases of the day.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BernardZ on December 25, 2010
Format: DVD
This movie contains almost a child like view of the world. The Americans are somewhat all knowing and wise while the British are naive. It is almost as if the British have done a total reverse of their post ww2 view that the British felt that they were the smart ones in the relationship. It cast doubts as to whether there is a special relationship between Britain and the US, and it also contains the view that Tony Blair was not a progressive which the films sees as a criticism of him.

The filming itself was good. There were times, I was stunned how seamlessly, the movie was able to merge the movie into historical films. I also thought that Dennis Quaid played very well.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. Druxman on November 27, 2010
Format: DVD
Michael Sheen is to Tony Blair what Raymond Massey was to Abraham Lincoln.

Massey may have had an acting advantage, since there were no movies or sound recordings of the 16th President that could be used for comparison, but Sheen has certainly employed the modern technology to his benefit. Indeed, there are many moments in his portrayal of the former British Prime Minister when you forget that you are not watching the real man.

THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP, from HBO Home Entertainment, marks the third time that Sheen has played Blair on screen. Since the plot centers on him, rather than, for example, Queen Elizabeth, his portrayal in this film is much more comprehensive than his earlier efforts.

Set against world events, Peter Morgan's script is, in essence, a story about a "student" learning from and then surpassing his "teacher".

The "teacher" in this case is President Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid in a remarkable performance).

Clinton was nearing the end of his first term as President when Blair became Prime Minister. There was an immediate rapport between the two men and, both being liberals, they pledged to make their "special relationship" work and together bring the free world to their political way of thinking. Blair stood by Clinton when the President's embarrassing sexual affairs nearly brought down his Presidency, but the two friends butted heads over the war in Bosnia.

Directed by Richard Loncraine, this fine film examines the nature of friendship in the world of politics. Hope Davis presents a credible performance as Hillary Clinton and Helen McCrory, as Blair's wife, steals every scene in which she appears.

The DVD includes a "Making of" featurette.

© Michael B. Druxman
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Movie Guy on December 19, 2010
Format: DVD
The movie centers primarily on Tony Blair and how the political genius of Bill Clinton helped him along until student became master. Hope Davis owns Hillary Clinton. She did a better job portraying her than perhaps Tina Fey does Palin. Quaid had down Clinton's speech but he simply didn't look like him. The movie starts with an obscure Blair studying the US 1992 campaign to see how the Democrats turned things around. (It is easier for a political party to change its views than it is to change the views of the people.) Cherie Blair is envious of Hillary because Bill shares his power with her as she is his closest adviser. The movie then moves to Ireland then goes through the Monica scandal and climaxes with Blair becoming the master politician over Bosnia-Kosovo genocide. Ominous music is played when Bush is elected (hint at liberal bias). I found the movie to be extremely interesting and more entertaining than I expected. What the movie doesn't show is how Blair got dismantled over his special relationship with Bush and the Iraqi war, although Clinton's final words were that of a warning to Blair NOT to get close to Bush and questions if Blair is a true progressive. There is some sex talk over the Monica affair and Hillary does drop the f-bomb once.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. (Harry) Hernandez VINE VOICE on June 14, 2010
Format: DVD
THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP ~ This nearly made my eyeballs fall out when I saw Michael Sheen was reprising his portrayal of former Prime Minister Tony Blair--for the third time now--and I flew off my seat when I saw Dennis Quaid was playing President Bill Clinton. This movie does not disappoint.

Naturally, "the special relationship" can be traced back to King George VI (the queen's father), who developed what he called "a special relationship" with FDR and the U.S. While the film misleads a bit about that - the idea that all countries want a special relationship with the U.S., how arrogant can we get - it certainly describes the very spine of the narrative here.

Though THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP is not as rich and well-planned-out as Stephen Frears' The Queen (with Michael Sheen in his second role reprisal as Blair) it is fascinating to watch the great friendship between Blair and the Clintons. It's fun to see the Clintons and the Blairs privately talking about each other, and a profound sadness at seeing their friendship meltdown.

Quaid hands in an Oscar-worthy one here. Clinton is the next Nixon as we all know, and no actor has taken a shot at Clinton. Quaid has set a standard, and I hope everyone gets to see this. He could so easily have caricatured the president in an ugly way, he could have ruined the voice...in short, it's the actor's old "Nixon Trap".

Quaid nails the voice and ensures that nothing goes awry with his portrayal. I'd like to direct fans to the spectacular
...Read more ›
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