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Iron Lady a Hard Film

I was intrigued by the trailers for Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep. The scenes were dramatic, elegantly composed, and powerful. I don't know when I have felt so let down by a movie, though, as by this one. Perhaps that is because the trailer and other publicity have not dared to indicate what at least half this movie is really about.

The acting is superb. Not only does Streep deliver her customary and impeccable artistry, but her co-stars do, as well. Harry Lloyd is such an appealing young Dennis Thatcher, I nearly had a crush on him by the end of the movie. Alexandra Roach is enchanting as a young Margaret Roberts, and Jim Broadbent is well up to the task of partnering with Streep, playing a ghostly Dennis to an addled and struggling Margaret.

The disappointments are buried deep in the film's construction. The movie acts more like a Christmas pageant or a tableau than a movie, one scene appears after another, flashbacks interrupting quite predictably, but without a strong story line. I learned almost nothing about Margaret Thatcher that I did not already know.

Harry Lloyd
What I did learn about Margaret Thatcher were things I don't need to know. In fact, no one needs to. The many scenes that show Thatcher hallucinating, talking to her dead husband, toddling about a dreary flat, saying things that don't make sense, were disquieting to me. Not only did they provide no elucidation about a major historical figure, they strike me as not just an invasion of privacy, but an outright violation of it. If I were one of her children, I would be distraught beyond words. In short, the film goes where it has no right to go (and has no right, in part, because it invents events in Thatcher's mind). And where it could go--with magnificence, conflict, strength and great interest--it travels in short staccato snippets that don't connect.

There are allusions to unions, strikes, economic difficulties, but nearly all these are addressed with MT mini-speeches, short bursts of newsreel footage, and highly choreographed scenes with power-broker males. The scenes relating to the Falklands conflict were the best in terms of bringing history to life. But we go fairly quickly from this to MT's demise. And her demise appears to come because she is bitchy (and truly remarkably and nearly abusively so) to her cabinet.  That will do it, of course, but it can't be the entire story.

Alexandra Roach
Margaret Thatcher in a bathrobe, huddled on the floor, watching television in the middle of the night, struggling to open a CD case, chiding her hallucinated husband, or telling her daughter non-sequitur's that are out of time and space: what was the purpose in taking us here? Just one scene like this would have been more than enough to show us that time has its way with us all, that even the Iron Lady must grow soft eventually. But it wasn't one scene. It was many, and as they increased in number, I felt that I, the viewer, was being hounded in a most counter-productive fashion.

I had to wonder, had Maggie been Male, would this same movie have been made? Would someone make a movie of a drunken Churchill or Ronald Reagan with Alzheimer's? I doubt it. For all the pomp surrounding the film about Great Britain's first female prime minister and despite having been directed by a woman, Iron Lady commits the age-old and oft-repeated mistake of invading a woman's life, rather than exploring it with respect. She was remarkably, undeniably, unprecedentedly powerful. And we MUST deconstruct her, mustn't we? We must not end this movie with the imperious Margaret Thatcher at the podium declaiming, the persevering woman who achieved the unthinkable achievement, or even the difficult and self-deluded politician at the end of her career--defeated, but not utterly powerless.

No, we must end this movie of the life of Margaret Thatcher with her begging her ghost-husband not to leave her, washing a teacup, and then hobbling down a dark hallway into oblivion. Whatever she did or did not do, whatever mistakes she made or accomplishments she managed, the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain deserves better from the world of cinema.

Comments

It does seem rather hackneyed to emphasize the irony of the stature of a great historical figure to her subsequent pitiable condition. What a pity they ruined a great story. I will watch the movie (with trepidation now) and check back with you later. Thanks for your commentary.
Let me know what you think! It is worth seeing... and is a well-done film. abrazos, Y
Tati Galiano said…
hola Ysabela!
You received my Liebster Blog Award:
http://www.madridpaperart.com/2012/01/nuevas-obras-por-encargo.html
Un beso grande!!

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