Britain and the US have long enjoyed a 'special relationship' built on a shared history, language and desire to do things their way, which is to say not the way of Europe, Asia, the Middle East or, for that matter, most of the rest of the world. Notable couplings include Churchill and Roosevelt, Thatcher and Regan and more recently, Blair and Clinton. Clearly fascinated by New Labour's shining glory, screenwriter Peter Morgan (Academy Award nominee for The Queen) crafted another dramatic gem from the potentially dusty topic of trans-Atlantic politics. With Michael Sheen and Helen McCrory revisiting their roles from The Queen, and Dennis Quaid and Hope Davis as their American counterparts, director Richard Loncraine (My One and Only) was on to a winner.

Anyone even vaguely versed in global politics of the 1990's will find The Special Relationship a thrilling watch, if only for knowing the fallout of events that play out centre stage. “Hit the ground running,” says Clinton on the eve of Blair's landslide election. Legacy, he offered, must top the agenda lest someone else choose it for him. Derailed by a blue dress himself, it is wryly amusing observations such as these that pepper Morgan's narrative. While Blair saw himself as Europe's fix-it-man (resolving 'the troubles' of Northern Ireland then leading the protective assault on Kosovo), the spectre of WMD's lurk off-stage throughout.

This is part of what makes The Special Relationship so, well, special yet it truly shines in the blinding light of performance. Sheen (his third outing as Blair) is typically mesmerising yet the surprise is Quaid who, from bullet-proof hair to home-spun voice, envelops Clinton and claims him as his own. Watching this develop against the actuality of news footage makes for a spellbinding experience.

Toward the end of the 1990's, two men held a world of possibility in their hands. A paradigm shift in the way nations behaved was within their grasp. Yet how quickly, and how completely, that would come undone. A Presidency went south, an election was stolen and a new order took shape. “These guys play rough,” said a nervous Clinton as Blair began jockeying for position once more. He wasn't listening, there was a legacy to build.

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