I think they did a pretty decent job. I loved the techniques used in the miniseries – making use of techniques common to films of the era in question (for instance, to show his huge popularity, a montage of hide-and-go-seek), the use of real television clips, the framing of images on the screen (the interview on an old TV set, with double-images of Trudeau and the interviewer, much like we all used to get on aerials), and the music selection.
Colm Feore did an excellent job embodying the man, I feel. The physical resemblance was close enough, but to get his lilting cant down was just perfect, and Polly Shannon was an eminently lovable Margaret – perky, wistful, emotional – all the things I (who, admittedly, cannot remember the Trudeau days, and wasn’t alive during the Margaret days) attribute to her.
The first half of the miniseries felt much stronger to me – more focussed, better controlled and more sequential – it held together as a cohesive story, whereas the second half felt much more like a series of vignettes to me – loosely connected, but not necessarily building off of each other, which left it feeling a little empty.
Additionally, the film let us know Pierre Trudeau the politician – his beliefs, his actions – The History. What I don’t feel was that any insight was really shed onto the man. Leah commented tha “he loved Canada so much, at the expense of everything else in his life”, which I thought was a pretty astute comment. But at the end of the film, I don’t feel I learned anything about Pierre Trudeau – with the exception of the little fact that when arriving at 24 Sussex Drive, he had to climb the fence because no one was there to let him in – but again, nothing about his own thoughts, beyond the public ones. Maybe there simply isn’t that information for the creators to use. Or maybe that was in part the point – this at once incredibly public and yet completely unknowable person – near the end, Pierre says to Margaret “You know me”, and she says “No, I don’t. And maybe that was part of the problem”. Which could be seen as a summary for the whole film, and Canada’s relationship with Trudeau.