Bush of Goats

Life's too short for empty slog. ans.

The Hunt of Tony Bliar

Last night m’wife and I watched, from a recording, The Hunt For Tony Blair.

The Hunt takes place in an imagined England of the 1940/50s and has an opening not unlike 39 steps, where the central ‘everyman’ (Blair) is framed for a crime and must flee to prove his innocence. Blair, on the run, searches for help from the friends he has bought along the way, who all hang up on him or double cross him. He eventually finds himself on a tumbled down neglected country estate, owned by none other than Lady Thatcher, sprawled like a 40s movie star across a chaise longue. In the end, it’s a crazed Gordon Brown who shoots Blair in the arse, falling from the open doorway of a cruise liner into the sea. After appearing to have drowned, lying facedown in the drink, Blair rolls over, and clasping his hands behind his head, drifts off to a happy ending.

Narrated throughout by Steven Mangan’s Blair, it is the view from inside Blair’s head; ‘of how it really happened, you know?’. He is, in his vision of what happened, immensely smart, somehow unique and surrounded by naive dummies. As everyone around him is forced to adhere to the rules of the genre , trapped and laid low by the challenges of an everyday Britain – Cherie appears several times to complain that the washing machine has broken – Blair himself is permitted to sidesteps the rules of his own imaginary universe. The restrictions of the genre, of the world Blair has created, act as a beautifully conceived cipher for the manner in which all around him is trapped by a certain comprehesnion of the universe, and are therefore incapable of thinking outside of the box. Only he is allowed to step out of the  game – like an 11-year-old forced to play with 7-year-olds, he must be allowed to manage the rules, because only he could hope to understand what the game is actually about.
Despite all this, it remained somehow lacking. The script was good, if not consistently brilliant, there were some lovely shots, lighting and dress, and it did on occasion feel like a lost Powell and Pressburger, but overall it felt laboured (which you could almost argue was a product of the millieu – the overlong look into camera – were it not for the looks of knowing on the actor’s faces). There were many great ideas (repeated references to the published biographies of Blair, Bush and Mandelsohn, Thatcher as a fallen idol, obsessed with ‘her war’) and some laugh out loud performances (Robin Cook chief among them) it just didn’t bite quite hard enough.

I heard a a thought on the radio recently (I cannot recall from whom or in what context, but it might have been Andrew Collins) about satire. He said, ‘the only satire which has ever worked was Smashie and Nicey. Overnight, every DJ on radio, everywhere, abandoned the radio personality they had spent years refining and began to speak normally.’

I wonder if in an even tighter homage to the era and its media, this should have instead been a serialisation: wherein the grinding ubiquity of Blair’s dogged adherence to his doctrine over everyone else’s might be exposed in its simplicity and unilateral benefit. If we were to have this week in, week out, it might start to have the imagined power of satire and perhaps even bring a closer examination of the man responsible.

Not ‘arf, mate!

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Filed under: Thinking

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