Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Review of The Iron Lady

Today, Mr. Big Blue Wave and I went to see The Iron Lady, the biopic about Margaret Thatcher, starring Meryl Streep, who was brilliant in the lead role.

I liked the movie. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. It was the first movie I’d seen in a movie theatre in years. Finally something to pique my interest.  It’s been even longer since I actually liked a movie I saw in a theatre.

I did not like the flashback approach to telling the story.  It made the movie into a series of vignettes. These vignettes were delightful, but they remained somewhat superficial. I would have liked more drama about the Falklands’ war, or the IRA bombings, or the political back-biting in her party. I only got segments. The segments themselves were very well-written and well-acted.   Just too short.

There was a lot of controversy about portraying Margaret Thatcher as old and senile.  Mr. Big Blue Wave, like many other movie reviewers, believed that this depiction of her was a leftist attempt to cut her down. I don’t see what the fuss is about. I thought showing her as a senile old woman made her more human and sympathetic.  Her character incarnated the old phrase “she puts her pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us.” I enjoyed the exploration of the woman behind the political figure, especially in her capacity as wife and mother. She hallucinates about talking to her dead husband concerning events  that happened to her during her term. Some people see that as pathetic. I thought it was just a tool to get her  to show the action. Mr. Big Blue Wave would have preferred a conventional “life and times” type movie that featured the salient historical events.

Because of the focus on feelings and relationships rather than action, it is something of a “chick flick”.  Male conservatives who go to see this movie probably want to see her in her full Tory splendour—and you do get some of that.  But it’s intertwined with scenes about relationships.  Women who see this movie, whatever their political stripe, would appreciate the personal aspects of her tenure.

One theme that I drew from the movie is that she gave her life to politics and public life, but her failure to properly develop her family and amicable relationships meant that she ended up basically alone except for the company of her daughter Carol. She has a secretary and an assistant and a security detail, but they are not close confidants. The only confidants she had was her husband, which is why letting go was so difficult for her. It makes a statement about political ambition. You can love politics, but politics will not love you back.