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'The Deal'

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Writer Peter Morgan, director Stephen Frears, and actor Michael Sheen have an unnatural interest in the politician Tony Blair. Before they teamed up for The Queen, with Sheen playing Blair as a butterfly in Helen Mirren’s hair, they’d already done The Deal. It arrives in this country belatedly, with Sheen playing Blair as part Peter Pan, part Sammy Glick, and David Morrissey playing Gordon Brown, Blair’s Labour Party rival, like a dish of haggis. A Blair so slippery he doesn’t require a spine outslicks a Brown so self-righteous you’d never guess he helped sell Labour’s soul to technocrats and statisticians. As in Frost/Nixon and Longford, Morgan cares more about personalities than politics, though pretending otherwise. Frears directs as if he intended the exact opposite of his own My Beautiful Laundrette—the view from the top, as empty of principle as pretty-boy Blair.

HBO
November 8, 9 p.m.


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