The Iron Lady

January 16th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I disapproved of the the film The Iron Lady long before I saw it. What sort of sick Hollywood types think it is okay to mock a still living person by highlighting their suffering from Alzheimer’s to the world.

If Jimmy Carter had Alzheimer’s, would they be making films of him as an old confused man, babbling about the SALT treaty. No chance at all.

Don’t get me wrong, once someone is dead, any portrayal of their life should be warts and all, and include their twilight years when their mental facilities were not what they once were. But my views were that such a film should not be made when the subject is still alive. And I still believe the film was premature.

But something wonderful happened with this film, despite the suspect motives of those behind it. Meryl Streep brought to life, in a way I would not have thought possible. She made her strong, she made her powerful, she made her sad, she made her obstinate, she made her defiant, she made her out of touch, she made her lonely and most of all she made her human – not just a caricature.

If Streep does not win an Oscar for her performance, then there is something seriously wrong. It was a stunning performance by her. She looked and sounded absolutely convincing. Alexandra Roach as the younger Margaret also performed wonderfully.

The film is an emotional one. Yes, I got wet eyes at times. It was a very sad story, but also a very uplifting one at times. It is effectively a series of flashbacks of the present day Lady Thatcher thinking through her life from working in her father’s grocery store, to getting involved in politics, standing for Parliament, becoming Leader and then Prime Minister plus the highs and lows of her time in office with her eventual resignation 11 and a half years on.

The present day Lady Thatcher is obviously suffering from Alzheimer’s. In the main, they capture this remarkably accurately and with sensitivity. A good example is how she slips out of the house to buy some milk as she needs some for breakfast, and this sparks a major panic amongst her staff and Police. From her point of view of course she is capable of going to the dairy. But from their point of view they are worried that if she has a forgetful spell when out, she’ll get confused and may wonder anywhere.

They accurately showed that she was still somewhat active – signing books, the odd public outing – but also obviously frail. The big plot element was that her dead husband Denis always appeared to her as a ghost, and she was often seen talking to him to the dismay of her minders.

They over-played the ghost of Denis angle, but it was still quite endearing. They captured his charm very well, and there is no doubt she terribly misses him. Anyone who has lost a partner of 50+ years would understand.

On the political side, they got it absolutely right. People forget what a massive achievement it was for her to become leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. This was a time when few few women were in politics, and she battled to be accepted every step of the way. You just wanted to punch some of those patronising old men.

They showed her at her best when talking about doing what is right, not what is popular. Absolutely inspiring. And the scene where she verbally lashes the US Secretary of State for suggesting they negotiate (she called it surrender) to the Argentinians was superb – especially how then suddenly she goes all lovely and asks if she should play mother and pour the tea. The Americans are all pale white at this stage.

The film though is definitely not a sycophantic account. They show the hatred, and the protests. They show her unwillingness to bend on the poll tax and they show the humiliating way she treated some of her cabinet colleagues such as Lord Howe – which led to her downfall. They subtly made Heseltine out to be a type of rodent, which was excellent.

Finally the ending was spot on. In her hallucinations she has finally let Denis move on and he is seen walking down the corridor away from her with his bags packed. She cries out for him not to leave her alone, and he replies that he isn’t – that she has always been alone.

And that gets to the crux of Thatcher – she fought battles all her life – and generally she did fight alone. It was a lonely life, and in her end years an even lonelier existence. You feel both sorry for her and (if not a hater of her) inspired by her.

As I said, I was prejudiced against the film before I saw it. But as I saw come out from the likes of Boris Johnson describing how well it captured Thatcher, I started to look forward more to the film. And Boris was right – it did capture her so well, warts and all. I still don’t like the timing of the film, but Meryl Streep especially made the film a magnificent portrayal of her life.

Incidentally I saw the film at the Shoreline Cinema in Waikanae. It’s a lovely little cinema with two rooms. Room 1 which we were in seats 40, but on two seater couches which were very cool. They also have room for wine or food in the spaces between each couch.

Tags: ,

22 Responses to “The Iron Lady”

  1. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    A great politician who wrote one of the most mind numbing autobiographies in the history of the world.

    Worth only for its first hand account of crushing Scargill, mincing him and feeding him to himself i.e. she did a great job

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Bob R (1,420 comments) says:

    One of the surprises of reading Christopher Hitchens’ autobiography, “Hitch-22″, was finding that Hitchens guiltily supported Thatcher. Remember Hitchens had been a Trotskyist rabble rouser at Oxford so you’d expect him to be deeply hostile to her.

    There is an amusing anecdote of Hitchens first meeting with Thatcher at a function. Hitchens had recently written an article mentioning that Thatcher was “surprisingly s8xy”. After being introduced they had a brief argument which ended with Thatcher ordering him to bend over. She then spanked Hitchens with a rolled-up parliamentary order paper and moved on. Hitchens turned around and saw Thatcher mouthing the words: ”Naughty boy!”

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. tvb (4,556 comments) says:

    I have no idea how accurate streep’s performance of thatcher. How can anyone. But streep’s performance is jaw dropping awesome. I was stunned and she must get best actress. But the film did depict a lot of conflict and violence during her premiership so the portrayal is not that sympathetic.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Tauhei Notts (1,687 comments) says:

    1.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Tauhei Notts (1,687 comments) says:

    1. Thatcher inherited a bankrupt economy in hock to the IMF. Her free market policies left the British economy competitive in the world’s economy.
    2. Her empowering social policies included the sale of council houses to tenants, giving ordinary people a stake in a property owning democracy.
    3. She argued so strongly about Europe’s common currency; as she said; how can industrious Germany and pathetic Greece have the same currency? That made her colleagues conspire to bring her down.
    4. She strongly believed that Germany remained an expansionist nation that would use the Euro to extend its power.
    5. She is now senile and talks a great deal to the ghost of her log dead husband, Denis.
    The film decided that the first four points were unimportant. Number Five warranted in excess of 40 minutes screen time.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. mikenmild (12,387 comments) says:

    Bad luck Tauhei, you must have been expecting to see a documentary (perhaps a one-sided hagiography) instead of a movie.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Dazzaman (1,082 comments) says:

    The Long Road to Finchley was another excellent account of Thatchers life, set prior to her parliamentary career. If Streep catches the essence of Thatcher as well as Andrea Riseborough did the younger version, she’ll be up for another gong alright.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. tvb (4,556 comments) says:

    Streep does not have to capture the essence of thatcher to get a gong. I suspect her obsession with dennis is not that accurate. But the sheer acting ability of Streep in giving AN interpretation of thatcher makes it a triumph.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. twmcsw (5 comments) says:

    For the record Thatcher does not have Alzheimer’s. She has demetia, a syndrome that causes gradual loss of cognitive function. Alzheimer’s can cause dementia, but not in Baroness Thatchers case. I believe her dementia is as a result of a number of small strokes.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. James Stephenson (2,267 comments) says:

    I have no idea how accurate streep’s performance of thatcher. How can anyone.

    Unless they know her personally? http://www.iaindale.com/posts/film-review-the-iron-lady

    I was going to give this film a swerve, but being a ‘Thatcher’s child’ who has escaped the anti-T brainwashing of the majority of my peers, I may even make the effort to go.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. EverlastingFire (286 comments) says:

    Tauhei Notts – I agree. The senile old lady thing was played out a little too much. The political parts were good.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. OTGO (579 comments) says:

    Meryl Streep, wow! That was a fantastic portrayal. Lefty Len Brown was in the audience when I saw it but I bet he never picked up any tips from the movie. I wanted to ask him but my wife wouldn’t let me. She steered me straight to the bar at the end dammit!
    The young Margaret learnt her Tory values from her shopkeeper father. A positive lesson for us all.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. 3-coil (1,199 comments) says:

    Maggie’s family have refused to see The Iron Lady – some of the few who do actually know how she is deteriorating in her old age are evidently not happy with the way she is portrayed.

    Phyllida Lloyd, the director of the film, admitted that the film was 50% “pure imagination” but that Streep’s performance takes care of MT’s dignity (wrt dementia etc) – well that’s okay then, at least she’s happy that it’s all hunky dory.

    I can’t help but contrast this with the concern for Kennedy’s image when the liberals managed to get the History Channel’s JFK bio canned recently – they were terrified that the public weren’t ready for the real JFK (as opposed to the JFK of popular American culture).

    Maggie has not been treated with the same level of concern here – and she is still living. The politics and “morals” of Hollywood are remarkably inconsistent – this is just another example of what a joke they are.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Scott (1,807 comments) says:

    Good review DPF. You should stick to this type of post and leave Destiny church alone!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. DJP6-25 (1,390 comments) says:

    I’ll watch it when it comes to the theatres here. I’ll have to be quick though. Films only play for about three weeks here.
    It was favorably mentioned in the National Review.

    cheers

    David Prosser

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. big bruv (14,218 comments) says:

    One thing that we fans of the great Lady should ready ourselves for is the predictable outburst of hate and bile from the leftish scum when she does pass away.

    If a film about her life can generate as much pure hatred as it has from the left I shudder to think of the way the feral pricks are going to react when she does shuffle off.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Rosa19 (26 comments) says:

    lets all vote…

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/18914

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. cha (4,139 comments) says:

    Don’t worry BB, the song’s been written, the t-shirts printed and there’s a petition to privatise the proposed state funeral.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Dick Gozinya (19 comments) says:

    Can’t wait for the Helen Clark biopic, where Helen is played by Dolph Lundgren.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    2 questions

    Why would anyone want to make a film with the intent to mock someone suffering from Alzheimer’s ?

    -and does it?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. James Stephenson (2,267 comments) says:

    I’ve changed my mind, I’ll wait for it to come on TV.

    Big Norm says it’s rubbish: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/normantebbit/100130132/if-the-real-margaret-thatcher-had-been-like-meryl-streeps-iron-lady-i-wouldnt-have-supported-her/

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. KevinH (1,257 comments) says:

    During the Falklands War, Thatcher was tireless in reviewing operations and was famously quoted as saying that she only needed 4 hours sleep a night. Thatcher expected her ministers to match her energy levels and unofficially some grumbled, but never the less she set an exhausting timetable for those invovled in her campaigns.
    Those high levels of energy that she expended must have contributed to her dementia in later life because pushing yourself to that extent has a consequence.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote