The Iron Lady (2012)
84th Academy Awards 2012
Nominated for 2 awards, of which it won both.
Won Best Actress (Meryl Streep) and Best Makeup (Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland).
Watched October 14, 2012.
It is hard to know what to think and feel about The Iron Lady. Critics weren’t so fond, historians disappointed, and the general public has been wishy-washy. The Academy, of course, noticed the film’s two most incredible aspects and rewarded them both. Anyone who is anybody will be able to watch this film and will once again be in awe of Meryl Streep and her complete embodiment of her character. She does, in fact, become Margaret Thatcher for a short, privileged amount of time, and the fact that the vessel that carried her is not completely up to par is hardly her fault, nor should it be.
Margaret Thatcher was the first woman Prime Minister in Britain. She served for eleven and a half years in the 80s, during a time of financial hardship not unlike our recession now, although the riots and protests of their unemployed severely belittles our own recent movement in the States. Margaret grew up as a grocer’s daughter and had political dreams and aspirations very early on. After earning a scholarship to Oxford, she quickly ran for office and after being voted in at a young age, she climbed the ranks quickly and soon became Prime Minister. A head strong, determined woman, she often leads well but is sometimes seen as very unreceptive to other opinions. However, knowing very little of politics, and even less about British politics, I will comment very little on it, except to say that I agree with many of the sentiments and impassioned speeches that were included in the film. This, I think, made me more inclined to like Mrs. Thatcher.
The Iron Lady follows my favourite sort of timeline–non-linear. It begins with Mrs. Thatcher as an old woman with dementia who hallucinates that her dead husband is still alive and well. Despite the fact that her rise to the top of the political ladder was completely done on her own (not disregarding, of course, the power of the voters), her constant hold on the memory of her husband and her incredible need for his companionship shows that she feared loneliness, although it could be argued that her reduced mental capacity brought her to a very innocent and vulnerable place that could easily cause this fear. The state of the country is in a similar place to when she was in office and her obvious need to understand the current affairs causes her to have flashbacks of when she was in office. On some occasions, she behaves as if she is still the PM, much to her daughter’s dismay.
Although many critics did not enjoy the non-linear style in this film, I think it will be hard to make me dislike this style, especially in an Oscar-worthy film. However, I understand the concerns of many that there was too much preoccupation with Mrs. Thatcher’s dementia and not enough time spent on her political career. In this case, I think that maybe they watched the film with different expectations, whereas I was easily sucked in, particularly because my grandmother recently passed away from Alzheimer’s. Many concerns have been that instead of taking hold of an opportunity to present a historical account of Margaret Thatcher, the filmmakers became preoccupied with her illness instead of her greatness. Some went so far as to say that it was an obvious play from the Left attempting to diminish her image of strength. On the contrary, I found it fascinating, especially as I knew my grandmother to be a passionate artist who was very fun loving, and her illness stripped her down to her rawest form–a woman who loved to sing and laugh. It is a devastating process. I think it is possible that because of my personal ties to dementia, I did not mind the amount of screen time it received in The Iron Lady, but again, I can understand the negative reviews toward this aspect.
I loved the cinematography, the colors, and above all else, of course, the impeccable acting. This film greatly separates itself from the other British films I have watched so far from the 84th Academy Awards. I found nothing in it that reminded me of a BBC film, except for the accents of course. For this fact alone it is leagues beyond Albert Nobbs, in my opinion.
The Iron Lady is certainly a fascinating character study and I would definitely recommend it. Keep in mind that it is a little slow, but Meryl Streep is to die for.