Let me begin by saying that I enjoyed this BBC-HBO production immensely, largely because of Michael Sheen's nuanced portrayal of Tony Blair. I have to acknowledge, however, that viewer reactions might be based upon how one feels about both Blair and Clinton. Some might find the film either too pro- or too con, because of the writers' and director's determination to keep the scenario firmly anchored in the middle of the political road, allowing the viewer to make up his mind on whether Blair began his political career as a novice, learned the political tricks of the trade (no pun intended) from a master conjurer, and then surpassed his mentor in dealing squarely with political reality.
The director is particularly neutral in his attitude toward the present Secretary of State, well acted by Hope Davis, while he allows (constantly munching) Dennis Quaid as her philandering husband a cringing leer, when she questions him about the truth of the Scandal; and Helen McCrory's Cherie, at times, suggests a crypto-Lady MacBeth in waiting. Not quite over-the-top performances, but almost!
Michael Sheen's often-underplayed portrayal of Blair keeps the film on track. He conveys a combination of vulnerable charm that soon emerges as infectious charisma--that the original does possess, whether one approves of him politically or not. Watching Sheen's portrayal, I found myself, at first, constantly readjusting my perspective, telling myself: "no, Sheen doesn't look at all like Blair." Soon, however, I forgot any initial scepticism, accepting Sheen's Tony-persona without reserve.
I therefore wish that the cinematographer had photo-shopped Sheen into the final newsreel scenes, because the sight of the real Blair brought me back to reality; but perhaps a sudden dose of reality is exactly what the director had in mind.