Lucía and Jun-Dai at the Odeon Leicester Square on 17 February 2012 at 21:00.
Meryl Streep gave an excellent performance in The Iron Lady. Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing I can really say about the film.
The premise of the film seems a bit silly. What are we to gain by seeing an old woman in her senility, wishing her husband back to life? If it was just a simple gimmick to give us an excuse to reflect back on her life, then they spent way too much time focusing on the present day. On the other hand, if it was just to show that over her career the one thing that she really neglected was her family, then that seems a little bit fucked up (hard to imagine a biopic like that about a male politician).
As a third alternative, there is something of a story threaded through the film wherein she is saying good-bye to her husband, who it seems has been her constant imaginary companion for the five years since his death. But for such a maudlin tale, it seems a bit strange to use a famous figure as the main character when it could just as well be any old lady.
I suppose the film is really intended to be all three, but in that case the result is a complete mess.
I don’t know much about Thatcher—and the film makes me wish I did—but I know caricature when I see it. Whether it was supposed to be a reflection of what she was like as Prime Minister, or whether it was supposed to be how the director imagines she saw it, there was something very ridiculous about the way that Thatcher seemed to be making all her decisions against the recommendations of all her advisors.
I also wasn’t quite sure whether the director was intending to suggest that Thatcher had a touch of senility at the end of her career. It seems unlikely, but something about the way she had that dazed look about her throughout her final days as Prime Minister. It seemed so similar to the way she acted in the present-day scenes.
The film seemed to have a very naïve view of politics, perhaps intentionally. It depicted political events with the lightest touch, and I assume it was because we were not meant to see what Thatcher meant to the political events as to understand what emotional impact the political events would have had on Thatcher and how it all tied into the over-arching emotional themes of her life. I’m not quite sure what the of that is, however.
In any case, I came away from the film feeling I hadn’t learned much about Thatcher, I hadn’t learned much about British politics, and I hadn’t even really gotten to see an interesting story. It did whet my appetite a bit, though, so I immediately came home and read about the Falklands War on Wikipedia and watched Youtube videos of Thatcher speaking. Streep’s depiction of her was really something, and it’s simply tragic that it wasn’t in the service of a worthwhile film.