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on 5 August 2008
I have just watched this film tonight and I found it fascinating. This is from the writer and director of `The Queen' and there are strong parallels between the two films, particularly as Michael Sheen once again provides an outstanding portrayal of Tony Blair.

The film chronicles the relationship between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair from when they became MPs to when Tony Blair took charge of the Labour party. British politics is often seen as drab and grey, so it is to the writer/directors credit that this film is fast-paced, gripping and satisfyingly entertaining. It stands up well to political films with much flashier subject matter, like Bill Clinton's infidelities during his quest for the Democratic nomination (Primary Colours) or the rollercoaster Presidency of Richard Nixon (Oliver Stone's `Nixon').

A special mention must also go to the two lead actors. It must be difficult to play two real life characters that the audience already know so well, but David Morrissey and Michael Sheen do a fantastic job. You quickly believe that you are behind the scenes with Brown and Blair.
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VINE VOICEon 17 August 2011
In the United States the distributors advertised this film as a prequel--horrid word--to "The Queen," which, of course it is not. Since I am an avid follower of British Politics, though--being addicted to BBC "Democracy Live" and "Any Questions?"--I found it riveting.

Stephen Frears has created a fascinating depiction of the two politicians at the outset of their careers, who were to dominate British politics--for better or worse, depending on one's view--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 of sincerity who is motivated politically by an earnest and zealous desire for reform; who cherishes the leadership of the Labour Party (and future as Prime Minister, should the party eventually come to power) as a goal to be sought as a prize of honour for diligent work. Fate intercedes in the form of the young, eager, charismatic and increasingly ambitious attorney, Tony Blair--Michael Sheen turns in his usual nuanced portrayal--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. David Morrissey's sensitive portrayal of Brown, however, conveys the wounded pride of a man who recognises--too late--that his lifelong ambition is being usurped by a plausible chancer who values the party leadership--not from conviction, but only as a means to an end.

The devil in "The Deal" is Peter Mandelson (aka "The Prince of Darkness" in some political circles), MP and Party Spin Doctor, who, in an opportune change of allegiance, chooses Blair's easy charm over Brown's difficult dourness as the most likely winning ticket from the Opposition to the Government side of the House of Commons. The tragedy comes in retrospect, because the viewer knows that although both men achieved their aims--first Blair, and then, belatedly, Brown--in the final estimation, the prize, which they each coveted so dearly, eventually disintegrated, leaving their respective reputations--as far as public opinion is concerned--in tatters.

The subject of the dynamics of ambition, power and the role of the media is particularly relevant today, in light of the ongoing "phone hacking" scandal which keeps threatening to consume the political discourse on both sides of the Atlantic.
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on 31 March 2009
David Morrisey is so plausible as Gordon Brown it is astonishing ! Michael Sheen is truly a great character actor who can play David Frost , Kenneth Williams , Tony Blair and now Brian Clough ! He plays Blair to perfection ! It is the compelling tale of how Blair and Brown went from being office sharing buddies to rivals in Westminster's long running feud AKA soap opera. It is interesting to see the UK's political history from 1983 ( when they both entered Parliament ) to 1994 ( when the deal was done so to speak) from a Labour Party perspective. The writers have it pretty much spot on and when I was watching it I must admit that the time flew by! I really enjoyed it ! The other cast members do a fine job and the real -life footage helps remind us that it is a factual drama. Thanks to the superior quality of the editing it flows superbly !

Amazon are selling it at a very reasonable price so if this kind of subject matter is your cup of tea then buying it from that fine on-line retailer is a good idea. Don't delay - buy it from Amazon today !
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on 10 December 2010
This is the first in the series of the Tony Blair/Michael Sheen set of films followed by 'The Queen' and 'The Special Relationship'.

This film covers the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from the time of their first meeting in the 1980's to the Labour leadership battle of 1994 in which Gordon Brown conceded the leadership to Tony Blair and this leads to obvious tension between the two.

Michael Sheen is excellent with his potrayal of Tony Blair and David Morrisey is uncanny as his performance of Gordon Brown.

I really enjoyed this drama and would recommend it as an interesting potrayal of the british political scene in the late 1980's early 1990's and an informative and character driven piece.
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on 21 September 2010
This television film was first shown by Channel 4 in 2003. The writer, Peter Morgan, the director, Stephen Frears, and the actor playing Tony Blair, Michael Sheen, teamed up three years later to make the cinema film, 'The Queen'. Although less famous than the later film, this is just as gripping a drama, with a well written script and excellent performances from the leading actors. David Morrisey as Gordon Brown and Michael Sheen as Tony Blair both give convincing performances, and Frank Kelly was very good as John Smith, a role that was certainly very different from the part of Father Jack in 'Father Ted' for which he is best known. However, it's a pity that the DVD lacks any special features, apart from the secene selection and subtitles.
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on 7 July 2010
This is an interesting film, very well made and very well acted by all concerned. Film elaborates on what was supposed to have been agreed between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Even without this it is a very interesting history of the labour party over the past 15 years
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on 6 October 2010
It helps that I really like the lead actors, David Morrissey and Michael Sheen. I'm not really into politics so most of this story was new to me, but I was grabbed in the first few minutes. Excellently acted and gripping.
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on 17 April 2014
Michael Sheen seems to have made a good living from portraying Tony Blair. But frankly, he does it very well so why not. This look at new Labour, its establishment and roots following Thatcher's resignation is an interesting look back at history. It is well acted, and although sometimes slow (as you may expect from a political story based upon the notion of a deal), it is realistic and worth taking a look at...particularly if you're a casual fan of modern British political history.
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on 1 August 2013
Possibly the best political drama ever made starring two top notch actors in Sheen and Morrissey as Tony blair and Gordon brown
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on 14 April 2014
A very interesting and useful insight into the often fraught relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during their years in power. Reveals some of the political shenanigans which can be taking place behind the scenes of what we actually see on TV. Very useful retrospective. We sometimes blame the press for making up stories and stirring up ill-feeling, but I suspect the truth is that we never heard the half of it.
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