Iron Lady

I saw IRON LADY and Meryl Streep does give a tremendous performance– but the film didn’t work for me because there was no point of view. The film is just a series of vignettes.
As a character she is looking back but there was no larger vision, greater perspective or sense of how that era should ultimately be judged. Lots of swirling riot scenes and flashing headlines but again vignettes. (Also no sense of what it costs the national soul to abandon those weakest and most vulnerable in favor a “self-reliance” not all can achieve– especially if they are very young children or very elderly).
When I was in London during that era she was called “Margret Thatcher the Milk Snatcher” because she cut nutritional programs in school for poor children).
Also the film has very little character development. She wants to get elected, her first campaign is a failure, she does get elected, she rules and then she is deposed. It’s very linear and episodic despite the fractured structure of the film.
We see clearly what she wants (and thinks) but we never see what she needs in the sense of a deeper human longing and we don’t ever see what it cost her to make the choices she does.
A small cost is hinted at in her absent son but she’s very comfortable, with a dutiful daughter (whom she mostly ignores) and she is unrepentant in all things. IMO The Queen was a much better movie with an equally strong female performance by Helen Mirren.
UnknownI saw IRON LADY at a WGA screening and Meryl Streep does give a tremendous performance– but the film ultimately  didn’t work for me because it has no point of view. The narrative is just a series of personal and political vignettes.
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As a character she is looking back but there is no larger vision, greater perspective or sense of how that era should ultimately be judged. There are lots of swirling riot scenes and flashing headlines about the times but again they are just visual vignettes.
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The film provides no larger sense of what it costs the national soul to abandon those weakest and most vulnerable in favor a “self-reliance” not all can achieve– especially if they are very young children or very elderly.  When I was in London during that era she was called “Margret Thatcher the Milk Snatcher” because she cut nutritional programs in school for poor children.
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Streep has very little character development to work with. Maggie wants to get elected, her first campaign is a failure, she does get elected, she rules and then she is deposed. It’s very linear and episodic narrative progression despite the fractured structure of the film.  Streep’s performance is a brilliant impersonation but doesn’t rise beyond that because of the script’s limitations.
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We see clearly what the main character wants (and thinks) but we never see what she needs in the sense of a deeper human longing and we don’t ever see what it cost her to make the choices she does.  A small cost is hinted at in her absent son but she’s very comfortable, has the attention of a dutiful daughter (whom she mostly ignores) and she is unrepentant in all things.
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The Queen is a much better movie with an equally strong female performance by Helen Mirren and a powerful narrative arc.  See my analysis of that film here.

2 Comments

  1. Reply Chris Lovett 23rd February 2012

    Laurie,

    We last met in Bristol, England in – I think in 2007? “Casualty” Good course, many thanks.

    I haven’t seen “Iron Lady” yet – but think that given it’s a life of a politician, if there’s no political stance I cannot see how there’s a story of any kind, other than the series of vignettes you tell us the film is. Life is, after all, politics, art is politics too.

    Here in the UK, Thatcher is both reviled and admired, as you know. Balance is impossible and never will be. So, any story about her will be a poor sub-set of almost cartoon imitations contributing nothing to our knowledge of her motives, primitive as I think they were. If the movie had tried to dig into that, it would absolutely HAVE to take a stance politically. As I said, I haven’t seen it, but I confess I don’t want to – because I want more from a biog. than a string of moments. I want a point of view, whether I agree or disagree with it. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

    On the other hand, “The Queen”. As you said, great movie, great story.

    I lived through both “Diana’s death” and the “Iron Lady’s” government, in real time. If the The Queen had any fault at all it was that it didn’t show that the “Peoples Princess” was also reviled by many of us…?

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