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The Deal

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(Jul 29, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Special Features

  • A conversation with director Stephen Frears
  • Biographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Dexter Fletcher, Frank Kelly, David Morrissey, Paul Rhys, Michael Sheen
  • Directors: Stephen Frears
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Miriam Collection
  • DVD Release Date: July 29, 2008
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • ASIN: B0010X73Z6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,253 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Deal" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gena Chereck on March 20, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First of all, let me point out that The Deal is technically not a "prequel" to the Oscar-nominated 2006 film The Queen, since this was actually filmed and then aired on Britain's Channel 4 three years prior. Both were written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Frears, and both star Welsh actor Michael Sheen as politician Tony Blair; and I suspect that, had it not been for the success of The Queen, The Deal most likely would not have seen a US release. Which would've been a shame, since The Deal -- though not quite the rich, in-depth character study that The Queen was -- is actually a sturdy little teleplay, and a fascinating glimpse into the workings of UK politics.

The story concerns the friendship and rivalry between Members of Parliament Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as they worked their way up the ranks of the Labour Party throughout the 1980s and into the '90s (they were considered the "opposition party" as long as the Conservative Party was in power); when their party leader, John Smith, suddenly died in 1994, both Blair and Brown were poised to take over. Though the pair had been united in their desire to "modernize" the Labour Party and put it back in power, the shrewd and friendly Blair was becoming convinced that he would be a more likely Labour candidate than the passionate, intellectual Brown to beat the Conservative candidate in the next election. So they supposedly struck a deal wherein Blair would run as the Labour candidate for Prime Minister: If elected, he would in turn give Brown unprecedented power as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and then Blair would step down after his first term and let Brown take over as PM.
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I cannot imagine this excellent television drama appealing to American audiences, unless they take an intense interest in British politics, and even then, they would be advised to read up on the background of the Thatcher Tory government and the rise of New Labour under the leadership of Tony Blair, and the incipient friendship and increasing rivalry between him and Gordon Brown. They would also be advised to switch on the subtitles, as the dialogue moves very quickly at times.

Despite a second nuanced performance by the remarkable Michael Sheen, "The Deal"--as another reviewer has observed--is far from being a 'prequel' to "The Queen". Nevertheless, director Stephen Frears has created a fascinating depiction of the two leaders who were to dominate British politics for thirteen years. He has also given us a glimpse into what, in Shakespeare's hands, might have been a single scene in one of his political tragedies.

"The Deal" presents Gordon Brown, beautifully portrayed by David Morrissey, as a man who is motivated politically by an earnest and zealous desire for reform; who holds the leadership of the Labour Party (and future as Prime Minister, if the party should ever come to power) as a cherished goal to be sought as a prize of honour. Fate intercedes in the form of the young, eager, charismatic and increasingly ambitious attorney, Tony Blair, whom the more politically experienced Brown befriends and mentors in the House of Commons. The director leaves Blair's motivations ambiguous though, only implying the moment when he decides to seize the power; whether he does so by chance or by design is left to the viewers to decide.
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This is a fantastic installment in a series of movies about the political rise (and fall?) of Tony Blair. This first one aired on British TV long ago. The same creative team made oscar winner The Queen, about the first year of Blair's term, and followed up with a portrait of Blair's interaction with the Clinton administration in: That Special Relationship (starring Dennis Quaid in a great portrayal of Bill).

This first movie is much less commercial - in the sense that it is less flashy. Gordon Brown, as we all know, doesn't have the personality of Tony Blair, and this first installment does not try to change that dynamic. The guy who plays Gordon Brown does a fantastic job (I got a better appreciation of him in this film than ever before). And the times (as with The Queen) are rendered with real news clips of peripheral characters, and grainy TV shots. So you get to see Maggy Thatcher, John Lord, and others as we all remember them.

Though it moves somewhat slowly, and renders quite a few political speeches, this film is a must see for all who are interested in the fascinating political career of Tony Blair, and/or in the times that spanned the last of the Reaganesq years and rise of the Labor party in Britain, the Clinton years, and finally, critically, the George W Bush administration. (I hope the same creative team will tackle the Bush years in a final installment - they seemed to hint as much in the close to That Special Relationship.) This is the film that captures Tony Blair's remarkable political beginnings, and makes a start at an examination of his character.
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