The Special Relationship was just released on DVD. It's the last part of a trilogy of political films starring Michael Sheen as Tony Blair (the others were The Deal and The Queen), and this one centers on the relationship between Blair and Bill Clinton. I wish I could say it's a worthy, Shakespearean end to a fine set of films, but it isn't*. It's still well worth watching—Sheen, as usual, is brilliant, and the film's closing scene is hilarious and affecting—but it's laid low by way too much clunky expository dialogue and, especially, Dennis Quaid's performance as Bill Clinton.
It's frustrating, because Quaid gets it half-right: You believe that his Bill Clinton is the smartest guy in the room. You believe he has almost superhuman endurance. But he's just not sexual enough. The best cinematic Bill Clinton still is John Travolta in Primary Colors. Like Quaid, Travolta captured the brilliance, but he also nailed how with Clinton, even a long discussion about facts and figures can be a game of seduction. Quaid glowers as Clinton, but he missed that, even when Clinton is in his red-faced scolding mode, he's still got a certain sexual swagger that can't be denied.
However, Hope Davis is exceptional as Hillary Clinton in this film. It's a bit of casting that I couldn't quite wrap my mind around at first, but she gets it all: The aristocratic air, the braying laugh, the sharp intellect. I'd love to see Davis reprise the role, with Clinton at center-stage this time. Hell, I'd love for The Special Relationship to be the first film in a trilogy about Hillary Clinton. Now that Sheen's done with Blair, it'd be nice to have some smart political films to look forward to.
* I know that Tony Blair is hardly Shakespearean, but he is fascinating, dammit.