Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—The Iron Lady (2012) **

PG-13, 105 min.
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Writer: Abi Morgan
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Coleman, Alexandra Roach, Susan Brown, Harry Lloyd, Iain Glenn, Nicholas Farrell, John Sessions, Anthony Head, Richard E. Grant

Why would you make a film about an historical figure and make it mostly about her life as an old woman with dementia after her retirement from public service? I don’t know how accurate the details about Margaret Thatcher’s dementia are here, but the movie treats her time as a pioneering female politician in British Parliament and as the first female Prime Minister as a highlight reel, while concentrating mostly on her as an old woman who hallucinates her long dead husband as she finally tries to let him go.

If you’re going to make a movie about an old age dementia driven romance, why chose one of the most notable public figures in recent history? There’s so much to tell people about Margaret Thatcher, why tell this? I was really disappointed in the content of this film, if you hadn’t yet gathered that.

The really strange thing is that it’s very well made. It features another amazing performance by Meryl Streep, but I can’t help but wondering if she had thought the film would take a different direction than it did. If I were cast in a role as an important political figure, I would want the film to be about her political life, not her dementia in retirement. The dementia could make a good framing sequence, which is what I expected from the beginning of the movie, but it takes front and center as the details of her historic career as a politician is sidelined for the most part. I learned nothing about Margaret Thatcher the politician that I didn’t already know, and I didn’t care about her dementia as much as the filmmakers obviously wanted me to.

Anyway, this movie was an extreme disappointment that is in no way the fault of Streep. Some called her performance a really good impersonation. I do not agree with this observation. It’s far more than an impersonation, and it belonged in a movie that did Thatcher and Streep more justice in its content.

No comments: