As Margaret Thatcher is one of my political heroes, and having been reassured as to the quality of the film by various bloggers and reviewers, I decided to go and see The Iron Lady last Sunday night.
(Actually, I went to see a “quotalong” re-release of The Princess Bride, but it was sold out. I am still ruing not buying my tickets online)
I have to say that afterwards I was furious with those who gave the film a thumbs up, because it is terrible. It is one of the worst film biographies I have ever seen, probably the worst. If you went into this film to try and get a grasp of the awesomeness of Margaret Thatcher, you would have been largely disappointed. Certainly I was expecting a recounting of all her finest moments and the major milestones in her life. Instead, we got a film full of an old lady mumbling to her daughter and talking to her dead husband, with only the slightest glimpses of her past. And what was shown of her past was not even the great moments of her career, but simply a few scenes where she has conversations with those close to her about those moments. She is shown either conversing with her husband, or conversing with Geoffrey Howe, but not actually doing the acts for which she is famous. It is a travesty. The only good scenes in the whole film are the ones where she is speaking from the dispatch box in parliament eviscerating Michael Foot (is there anything more satisfying than destroying the Left in mouth to ear combat?). But that’s it. The rest is garbage.
There are two themes in this film. The first is that Margaret Thatcher is now old and senile. I think I know what the point of this theme is, but I’ll get to that in a minute. The second is that Thatcher was a feminist fighting for strong womanhood in a world of weak men. Which is a fine aspect of her career to examine, but the film acts as if this is the driving force of her life, when Thatcher herself was very much against feminism, or at least that simplistic synopsis of it. A particularly offensive scene follows one of her 1950s election defeats (actual campaigning not shown, of course), where Dennis proposes marriage to her. She accepts, but responds with a tirade about how she won’t be some sort of little housewife. It’s stereotypical bullshit, sixth form scriptwriting, but it clearly shows the writer has not even read Thatcher’s own autobiography, in which she goes on at length as to how wonderful it was to be a housewife in the 1950s!
The acting is mostly below par, save for Meryl Streep, who is of course sublime as Mrs Thatcher. But if you want to see her literally become a public figure before your eyes, you should go see Julie and Julia instead, which is supremely superior to this crap. The young Dennis Thatcher is also good, and portrays well the suave businessman that he was in the 1950s (albeit forgetting that he was ten years older than his wife to be). But Jim Broadbent is awful, and portrays Dennis as a buffoon, with only a few scenes where he truly captures his forthright rigour and the powerful hold he had over his wife. The fact that Dennis was the only man that could stand up to Margaret is something that seems to have been deliberately left out by the filmmakers. An thony Head is completely miscast as Geoffrey Howe, and basically looks and sounds like his Buffy the Vampire Slayer character. And the young Margaret is far too bashful for the first President of the Oxford Conservatives.
How can you release a movie about Thatcher without even showing the best bits of her life? And spending all your time on the worst bit – her current decayed state?! Well I spot a trend here. Have you ever noticed that, whenever left wing people make a movie about a right winger, they nearly always portray that right winger as being “haunted by their demons”? That’s why they’re such bastards! Voices in their head! So we see Anthony Hopkins as Nixon haunted by his mother and ranting incoherently, Josh Brolin playing Bush playing baseball in a field of dreams, and now Maggie talking to her dead husband. That’s what the Left think drives us! The voices in our heads! Interesting huh?
(As an aside, Oliver Stone’s W is an excellent film, and a far better picture than this dreck)
I hope that some time in the near future, a decent film will be made about Margaret Thatcher, and that Meryl Streep can reprise her superb performance in it. But even a Left Wing hatchet-job depicting her as evil incarnate would have been better than this tepid horror of a film. At least in a film like that we might get to see what she actually did with her life.
Here’s some real Thatcher, which is all you ever need to watch of her right now: