Posted by: greercn | January 28, 2012

The Iron Lady

Oh dear. It’s just too soon to make this movie. While it tries to be fair and balanced, many of the events shown are mired in controversy and fresh in too many living memories.

Love her or hate her, Margaret Thatcher is one of the key political figures of our time. For a woman to have been elected three times to be Prime Minister of Britain is an astonishing feat.

Feminists ought to be brimming with glee – and yet, those on the left and supporters of women’s rights tend to see Thatcher as a unique hate figure. How many living politicians have quite so many websites devoted to detesting them and, indeed, wishing them dead?

The film takes the interesting stance of Thatcher looking back over her life, from the perspective of a confused old age.

While it does not shy away from controversy around the Falklands, poll tax, the miners’ strike and other key events, those looking for apology or explanation will be disappointed.

The early life of the young Margaret Roberts is skipped over fairly quickly. Clever and stubborn, she is an ideologue with a vision, even before her marriage to Denis Thatcher.

Her rise to power, stay at the top and fall are catalogued. The portrayal of the marriage is the most engaging aspect of this tale.

Meryl Streep does a terrific job and is a certainty for an Oscar. Jim Broadbent is superb as Denis. Olivia Colman – so excellent in “Tyrannosaur” – is stunning as Carol Thatcher. 

It’s a good movie and it zaps along very quickly.

I met and interviewed Margaret Thatcher at the height of her power and was surprised by how charming and warm she was. My then editor teased me that I had been hoodwinked and taken in. Thatcher was softer than I expected. I did understand why so many in her party warmed to her.

I found the prosthetics in this film vaguely annoying. Abi Morgan’s script is better, crisper and more natural than her recent one for “Shame” and “Mamma Mia” director Phyllida Lloyd keeps the action moving forward.

The scene featuring the Brighton bombing is particularly affecting. And Nicholas Farrell’s brief scenes as Airey Neave are very good.

Older people watching it at the Stratford Picturehouse seemed to get a lot more from it than the younger people. For those under the age of 25, this is just another movie.

But, for me, it’s all just too soon. Boy, I wonder what that Oscar speech will be about?

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