Friday, January 19, 2007

hand wringing and denial

The last film by the makers of last night's 'The Trial of Tony Blair' was last year's Blunkett satire, 'A Very Social Secretary', and given that that piece was a bit of a disappointment - a kind of blunt, heavy Adrian Mole - I wasn't expecting too much of the new film, although that instinct was tempered somewhat by the knowledge that by far the best aspect of that film was Robert Lindsay's unexpectedly brilliant portrayal of the Prime Minister. Last night Lindsay took on the lead role and the film was, rather surprisingly, rather brilliant.

Obviously any film that features Tony Blair being extradited to the Hague on charges of war crimes is pretty close to the ultimate left-wing fantasy, but the film was not merely a document of wish-fulfillment, but also a tightly scripted and brilliantly performed drama, which eschewed - a couple of predictable jokes at Cherie Booth aside - heavy satire in favour of a light comedic touch which saw Lindsay's Blair comically refusing to acknowledge his sins. Set in 2010, with a stubborn Blair finally handing over to a vindictive Brown (whose involvement in the plot admittedly stretches the boundaries of plausibility) and converting to Catholicism, the film's really about the denial of responsibility, although Lindsay, no fan of Blair, gives a sympathetic account of the PM's faults. The answer the film really wants to know, of course, is one we may never find out - whether Blair is haunted by guilt and by the images of the countless dead. In 'The Trial Of Tony Blair', he is. In real life, who knows?

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