dir Phyllida Lloyd, 2011
The Iron Lady is exactly the kind of mediocre movie that trips me up when I try to write about it, because it was mostly well-made, the performances were great (Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent are both incapable of bad acting; and Thatcher’s daughter is Olivia Colman from Peep Show, who’s brilliant), it looked good, etc. But it’s still a biopic that’s constructed from flashbacks. Unfortunately the balance definitely hangs towards old, reclusive, senile Margaret Thatcher, which is fine except that it basically consists of Meryl Streep in old age make up drinking whiskey, looking at old photos, and yelling at her hallucination of her dead husband, which doesn’t really go anywhere. I did think the bits where she’s at dinner or talking to her doctor and is asked something, and has to dance around the parts she can’t remember, but still manages to make an eloquent speech about whatever, are pretty perfect and true of people in my life I have seen going through Alzheimer’s, but it is not how most of the movie goes. You know what’s more interesting than an old lady sitting around in a housecoat drinking whiskey? (“An old lady sitting around in a housecoat drinking whiskey” actually could be a pretty awesome movie, but this wasn’t.) Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her relationship with her cabinet. To a lesser extent, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her strained relationship with her family. (Though there is a scene where she’s elected to Parliament for the first time, and she goes to work, and she drives away, and her children are literally chasing her down the street saying “Mommy, don’t go,” which is a little bit much.)
Okay, so I do have things to say about this movie, but most of them are really boring. I will say that I do object to the movie’s final scenes, which basically imply that Thatcher has somehow bootstrapped her way out of Alzheimer’s Disease, instead of, I don’t know, admitting to her doctor that she is having hallucinations. I mean, this is a pretty unfortunate kind of implication, because a lot of Thatcher’s policies are based on the idea that people can and should just will themselves out of any and every problem, but the fact is that there are problems you just can’t will yourself out of. The movie otherwise pretends to be politically “neutral” and focus on Thatcher as a person, but it sneaks Thatcherian politics into her personal life.
- mootpoint posted this