I recently attended a showing of The Iron Lady at the bequest of my girlfriend. I was initially reluctant to see such a production – not because of some distaste for a biopic of Margaret Thatcher, but because I feared that it would just be a simple film riding on the coattails of last year’s The King’s Speech.
The King’s Speech won four Oscars last year and for a very good reason. It is an eloquently produced work illustrating the changing political climate of Britain as it transitioned from the Victorian into modern times. Yet, here we are one year latter with yet another film about yet another British ruler. How can I not consider this a grab on the prior work’s success?
Nevertheless, I was surprised to find that The Iron Lady can stand upon it’s own accord. I knew little of Margaret Thatcher going into the film, save that she was an influential Conservative party politician in Brittan through the seventies and prime minister through the eighties. Folks still talked and argued about her influence when I went to Oxford just a few year’s back. She seems to be a rather reviled women and yet surprisingly influential on British society.
The Iron Lady showcases a kind of highlight reel of Thatcher’s life. A few scenes from before her entrance into politics, her campaign for leadership of her party, a handful of NRA inspired terrorist attacks, the Falkland’s war, and her eventually fall from authority. Overall these scenes are rather touching and masterfully performed by Meryl Streep.
Yet, he film spends it’s time predominately dealing with her current dementia. This is surprising since there is such a wealth of material from her actual life as the first female Prime Minister of Brittan and this dementia deals so very much with her late husband who is scarcely found in her historical remembrances.
My initial response to the film was delight. As a biopic, I walked away rather inspired to hop online and research more about Thatcher. As the days pass however, I find myself more and more caught up in the film’s narrative failures in a way that I did not feel with The King’s Speech. Indeed, whereas I might go back in a few years time and enjoy The King’s Speech again – I do not think I shall do so with the The Iron Lady.