The Iron Lady (2011)
Meryl Makes Margaret's Memories Memorable
It's time to get up! It's time go to work! It's time to put the great, back into Great Britain! - Margaret Thatcher
It was fascinating when "The Iron Lady" premiered on British TV as "Thatcher" trended on Twitter with the tweets varying from admiration for Britain's first female Prime Minister to venomous rants that basically wished she was dead, yet so few actually mentioned the movie itself. "The Iron Lady" is actually a fascinating movie, it mixes the present as the elderly Margaret Thatcher suffers from dementia with her past and her career from working in a shop right through to when after more than a decade in power she was edged out. What is interesting is for a movie about a political figure it doesn't make a political statement, instead it shows us Thatcher's life, what drove her on and whilst you may not agree with some of her political decisions it shows her as a woman of conviction which won her admiration even from those who disagreed with her decisions.
So as already mentioned "The Iron Lady" is this mix of the past and the present which uses Thatcher's fight against dementia as a lead in to cover her life, little things triggering memories of the past. It sort of works as not only do we see how things such as a news broadcast about a hotel bombing leads her to remember the Brighton bombing we also see how her memories torment her especially with her still seeing Denis and hearing him in her head despite having passed away years earlier. I say sort of works because whilst it leads in nicely to the past and in many ways allows us to sympathise with his woman who is partly haunted by events in her life there are some elements which don't work. A scene shortly after the period of the Falklands conflict is recounted as Thatcher in the present is surprised by a vision of Denis feels seriously out of place, cheapening a powerful series of scenes.
But whilst we have this element of present what we also get is a journey through Margaret's life from a young woman not interested in girly things but listening to politicians through various pivotal moments of her career, such as becoming Prime Minister and dealing with the recession. Now what is particularly surprising is that not once does it feel like the screen writers and director are praising or bemoaning Thatcher's politics but playing it very neutral, recounting various things with out agreeing or disagreeing. And by staying neutral "The Iron Lady" becomes all about Margaret as a woman who entered a chauvinistic world of politics, who made sacrifices as a mother and wife and who believed in making Britain great, refusing to back down from leading the country in what she felt was right. Now that does mean that whilst the movie plays politically neutral it does portray Margaret Thatcher as an inspirational figure and for me I agree she was because of her conviction and self belief but I know it is one of the reasons why there are those who hate this movie.
So here we have a movie which basically recounts Margaret Thatcher's life and career and that means a huge period of time which leads me to the casting. When I heard that they were casting Meryl Streep in the role of Margaret Thatcher I couldn't believe it, an American playing Thatcher sounded like a disaster but then I was blown away. Streep's performance is spectacular, oh visually there are times where it doesn't look right but the mannerisms and voice is unbelievable, in fact with praise to the make up department, for a lot of the movie you forget you are watching Streep it is so authentic. And at the same time Alexandra Roach deserves as much praise for playing the young Margaret, getting across the conviction of a determined woman. In fact all the casting is good especially Jim Broadbent as Denis and Anthony Head as Geoffrey Howe.
What this all boils down to is that "The Iron Lady" is a fascinating look at the life and political career of Margaret Thatcher. For a movie about a politician it is not about her politics but about her determination to do what she felt was right which comes across thanks to a brilliant performance from Meryl Streep.
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