‘…if you want something done ask a woman’ – ‘The Iron Lady’

20 01 2012


‘I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.’

‘To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.’

‘If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.’ 

“It will be years before a woman either leads the Conservative Party or becomes prime minister. I don’t see it happening in my time” (in 1970)

Meryl Streep on ‘The Iron Lady’:

“The more I learned, the more my view of her changed. Wherever you stand on her policies, and many people didn’t like her, the scale of her influence and the fact that she got things done was extraordinary.”

…she was at 10 Downing Street for ten and a half years. I admire that achievement. I stand in awe of it, even though I didn’t agree with a lot of her policies.’  

A Conservative view of ‘The Iron Lady’


‘Call me Dave’ Cameron (Coalition PM):

‘… a really staggering piece of acting, but a film I wish they could have made another day.’


@LouiseMensch ‘Bagshawe’ (one of ‘Dave’s Dolls’ – ‘Chick-lit’ author & Tory MP for Corby):

‘Meryl Streep should probably get an Oscar for an amazing portrayal (but) there was too much of a concentration on Lady Thatcher’s dementia and not enough on her life story, her achievements.’  


Lord- ‘On your bike’ – Tebbit (patron saint of cyclists & former Tory Party Chairman):

 ‘…half-hysterical, over-emotional’


Michael – ‘Tarzan’ – Heseltine (king of the political swingers – former Thatcher government minister and leadership rival):

‘…Mrs Thatcher was a formidable prime minister and to produce a film in her later stages of life depicting the problems of advanced old age, I find extremely distasteful’


It is probably fair to say that no British Prime Minister has ever split public opinion quite like Mrs Thatcher – the longest-serving Prime Minister for more than 150 years and the first woman ever to take the role.

For anybody who experienced the divisive Thatcher era it is highly unlikely they do not still carry some baggage from the political fall-out of the period. Rather like ‘Marmite’, the lady polarised public opinion. She certainly wasn’t to my taste!    

I’ll be honest, yesterday’s trip to ‘Vue’ ‘The Iron Lady’  was always going to leave me somewhere on the scale of moderately irritated to seethingly irrate. It won’t surprise those who know me well,  that I disliked Thatcher’s public persona and detested her politics. For me, there weren’t and never will be any saving graces – and I’m not for turning.   

The last thing I wanted to sit through was a sugar-coated Hollywood account of the Thatcher years, but on the other hand I very much wanted to see screen legend, Meryl Streep, playing the title role for which she has already carried off a ‘Best Actress’ Golden Globe award and received a BAFTA nomination.

She’s also the bookies’ favourite for a record 17th Academy Award nomination and a 3rd Oscar.       

Meryl Streep is already guaranteed a place in the hall of fame for all-time great actresses, and this is another truly outstanding performance, or, to use US parlance, she’s awesome.

Her mastery of the Thatcher voice, annoyingly screechy in the early years, measured, full of stateswomanly gravitas (but equally annoying ) following the political ‘make-over’, is uncanny. She has also unerringly captured and mastered every movement and facial mannerism of the handbag swinging grocer’s daughter from Grantham.        

The film controversially depicts Thatcher, now aged 86, a confused and lonely woman who constantly hallucinates about her dead husband Denis – a supporting role for which that most versatile of British actors, Jim Broadbent, has been BAFTA nominated.

Sixty two year old Streep plays the politician over a 40 year span, depicting her rise and subsequent fall, through a series of flash backs of the major events in her political and personal life.

As a biopic it largely fails, lacking depth and authenticity, lapsing too readily into ‘faction’, with selective editing of the more controversial events during Thatcher’s reign – which will not be to everybody’s taste.

In striving for balance and fairness its tone is largely apolitical with many of the excesses of ‘Thatcherism’ diluted or air-brushed out completely.

The focus on Mrs Thatcher’s declining years and her struggle with dementia is carefully calculated to evoke an emotional audience response, and the film’s emphasis is predominantly about creating a sensitive portrayal of the woman, wife, and mother behind the fabled Iron Lady – a woman who climbed the greasy political pole in a male dominated world but ultimately lost her grip on reality and slipped into oblivion.

In trying to appeal to a wide audience, of varying political persuasion,  the film falls between two stools. Thatcher lovers will no doubt bemoan a degree of understatement, surrounding what are considered her major political achievements, and the muting of  Tory triumphalism, while those on the other side of the political fence will balk at an overly sympathetic view of a political tyrant.        

For me this film will always be about the extraordinary performance of Meryl Streep, the actress, rather than Margaret Thatcher, the politician.




One response

20 01 2012

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