I can't understand all the negative reviews for this film. I can only assume that people are writing out of bitterness for what Thatcher did whilst in Government, or bitterness that she's been portrayed with a weakness by the film. At its core, this movie isn't about party politics, or policy decisions, or whether what Thatcher did was right or wrong - it makes no judgements at all - but rather it is about Margaret Thatcher as a woman and as a human being.
The story is focused on a present day Margaret Thatcher, suffering from mild dementia and portrayed as a woman somewhat out of her time period. Through her illness, she experiences flashbacks of her past and her rise and fall in politics. We see her go from promising young politician from an ordinary background, to a female MP trapped in the world of men, to a pioneering Prime Minister, to someone who has been in power too long and begins to lose her way.
Whatever you might think of Margaret Thatcher and her Government, the point of this film is to portray the woman as honestly as possible and, for the most part, it achieves that. It isn't a Conservative, Liberal or Labour fuelled film and it isn't anti or pro Maggie. It allows the viewer to make up their own mind.
The key to the movie is the older present day Maggie. We see a woman suffering from dementia and virtually alone. She has a slightly wayward daughter and a son who doesn't give a damn about her - symptoms of a life putting politics first. Meryl Streep's portrayal is exquisite. For most of the film, and particularly the modern day segments, you'll often forget that this is even an actress playing a part and get sucked in entirely.Read more ›
In many ways this is a perplexing film. On the one hand we are led to see it as the nostalgic reminiscences of a now lonely old lady with mental health problems. This could and would be touching if that woman were not Margaret Thatcher. If we are given to understand that her life in politics was a cause of her missing so much of life which she now yearns for, then I find it very difficult to sympathise. I can't help thinking of those 100s of young Argentinian and British men and women that had to sacrifice their lives in an unneccessary war so that she might get re-elected. Or the mining communities that were decimated by her arrogant policies. How many lives has this woman blighted? Is it not the case that her policies were the seeds which grew into the tree of unregulated banking greed which ultimately led to the crisis we now all suffer under?
On the other hand it is also an attempt to portray her as succeeding in a man's world against almost overwhelming odds. The truth is that Thatcher succeeded in a man's world by adopting the worst traits of masculinity and getting away with it because she was a woman: belligerence, arrogance, and the cold attempt to seperate the heart from the mind. She has set feminist causes back God knows how many years.
When she accepts Dennis's offer of marriage the young Margaret tells him that she is 'not the kind of woman that can end her life washing cups.' (Or something like this. I have no intention to watch it again.) 'That's why I want to marry you.' Well the final scene shows a frail and lonely Margaret washing her own solitary tea cup with a look of confusion and regret on her face. Poignent? It perhaps could be if again one did not feel that the person who is being depicted is not blame-free.Read more ›
The acting in "The Iron Lady" is superb. Merle Streep brings Margaret Thatcher to life, visually vocally and in spirit. Jim Broadbent, as her husband Dennis, is a performance to match and enhance Streep's own. The blending of the roles of Alexandra Roach and Harry Loyd as the young Margaret and Dennis with the later manifestations is seamless.
The story itself recalls memories, even to Americans, of the Falklands War and introduces us to some of the controversies Thatcher's policies engendered in Britain. I am sure that British memories would be stimulated much more than Americans.
I found the focus on Thatcher's presumed dementia to be a distraction from the film. It is the milieu in which the life-long love story between Maggie and Dennis is presented, but I still find that detracts from the power of the film. The real story of Margaret Thatcher is the story of her active life, her life of struggle for the British people and the Free World, not the story of an elderly woman in decline. If a movie of Ronald Reagan purported to present his life but focused on his final years I would find it offensive. I feel the same about Lady Thatcher. This film makes me want to know more about her and read her books, but I think it will be awhile before I watch this movie again.
Meryl Streep lives up to expectations with her strikingly accurate recreation of Margaret Thatcher, at least as she has appeared in the media. It is interesting to be reminded of the violence of the 1980s - the Poll Tax riots, the IRA hunger strikers and bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, the bitter Miners' Strike, the tensions and mishaps of the Falklands War offset by the exaggerated euphoria over the eventual victory. However, all this is covered so quickly that I am not sure what those too young to remember will make of it.
The best yet most controversial aspect of this film is the portrayal of the former Prime Minister as an old lady suffering from dementia, often imagining that her husband Denis is still alive, a dramatic ploy for remembering her past life and revealing her personality through imaginary exchanges with him, ably although perhaps too sympathetically portrayed by Jim Broadbent.
These scenes of dementia about a person still living left me feeling a little uneasy. Perhaps they are based on a recent book by Carol Thatcher, but I understand the family has not given their approval for the film. Maybe the "Anyone for Denis?" stage show paved the way for this kind of intrusion into their lives. I noticed that Mark Thatcher has a remarkably low profile in the story, possibly with avoidance of lawsuits in mind.
There is perhaps too much focus on Thatcher as an elderly lady, giving too little time to develop past events. The process by which she becomes Prime Minister is rushed through, perhaps so as not to bore the audience. Some important aspects of her premiership are neglected.Read more ›