The Iron Lady (2011)
Dir: Phyllida Lloyd
Ex British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died this week, so I decided to watch this as it was topical.
This sees Mamma Mia director Phyllida Lloyd teaming up again with Meryl Streep, but there’s no singing this time, it’s a biopic, showing an elderly Margaret Thatcher (Streep) as she looks back at moments in her life with the imagined presence of her dead husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent).
The film got off on a bad foot for me as it showed an aging Mrs Thatcher going to buy milk form a local shop, and being queue-jumped and completely unrecognised. It’s just too hard to believe that she really could go to the corner shop for some milk and not be recognised at all when she made full breaking news worldwide when she died a few days ago.
The film is clearly trying to say something about being a woman in a male dominated profession. The director is female, as are the writer and editor. Directing especially is often seen as a male dominated profession, considering that there has only been one female winner of the best director Oscar. There are a number of scenes in parliament that show the ‘benches’ filled with male members of parliament and just the one lone woman, and besides this being historically inaccurate, it’s also clearly unbelievable. This bias affected the whole film, and in my opinion it made the focus move too far away from what was really interesting and ever giving any kind of decent insight on events.
What’s fascinating me is that the writer of Danish political series ‘Borgen’, Adam Price, and ‘House of Cards’ writer Michael Dobbs, have announced that they’re working together on something. Dobbs has previously stated that he would like to do ‘the real story of Denis Thatcher’, and it is rumored that’s what this upcoming project could be. I find that fascinating, particularly as after watching ‘The Iron Lady’ that’s exactly what I wanted more of. For a film that had Mrs Thatcher talking to her husband for a large part of it, it really steered away from giving him any real consideration apart from showing that he supported his wife immensely. I felt it was hugely lacking in not even showing events around his death as that must have been a turning point in Mrs Thatcher’s life.
Some parts of the film felt too light-hearted, making the men seem comical and either inept or conspiring. What was needed was more seriousness and balance, and to get away from being caught up in its own importance as a polemic on women in high places.
I know little about Margaret Thatcher as I was only 3 when she left office, but even from the little news I do read and know I think there are some far more fascinating stories to tell. For example, there was a massive search effort for her son Mark when he went missing in the Sahara desert while on a rally, this made the news a few months ago when documents revealed that Margaret Thatcher paid the costs herself rather than letting taxpayers cover them. Things like this could have actually given a better insight into an interesting woman than this film ended up doing.