When Margaret Thatcher was in Power, I was just a small boy attending Primary (Elementary) school. I can remember seeing news stories about her on the TV while I ate my dinner at night and can still see pictures of her on the front page of my Dads newspaper. I also recall listening to my parents, and sometimes teachers, discussing or debating her famous controversial policies and decisions. That is the extent of how much Margaret Thatcher influenced or affected my life.
I went to see this movie, not quite knowing what to expect. I have no particular interest in British politics, nor have I ever been inclined to learn more about the country’s very own Iron Lady. However, I did have an interest in seeing a magnificent life story told through, what should have been, a magnificent film.
The pace of the film is acceptable and it does manage to hold your interest. However, I was disappointed by how screenwriter, Abi Morgan, chose to tell this story, by focusing more on Thatcher now, a frail elderly woman who is suffering from dementia and can’t leave the house unsupervised. The story of Thatcher’s life is more in flashback form, as she struggles to cope with her husbands death and pictures and items from her past trigger her memory and send us with her into another flashback.
Meryl Streep, does not just pretend to be or act like Margaret Thatcher. She becomes her. Everything from her facial expressions, the way she walks to the way she talks. Streep joins her Mama Mia director, Phyllidia Lloyd, who’s direction is well thought out and the dull use of colouring, used often with extreme close ups of a confused and sad Thatcher certainly helps to be with her and feel her sadness. It is wonderful direction and phenomenal acting, joined by an equally brilliant Jim Broadbent, who plays Thatcher’s beloved Denis.
While you are watching magnificent acting performances and direction, it will take your mind off that you are watching just a good movie. We are given small scenes of how Thatcher chose politics as a career, a few moments on how she met her husband, Denis, and a speedy run up, to how she finally became Prime Minister. There is perhaps only 15 minutes spent on the Falklands War which was disappointing as this was probably one of Thatcher’s most famous and talked of decision‘s. This is all combined with how her choices affected her marriage and her relationship with her children.
There is clever use of editing which I really enjoyed, where actual footage of Margaret Thatcher coming into power and making her way into 10 Downing street is combined with beautifully choreographed footage of Streep re-living the scenes which is then joined together and flows brilliantly.
Margaret Thatcher was one of the most controversial, decisive, influential and talked about leaders of our time, and I really hoped to see more of these controversies and decisions throughout the movie and really thought I would leave knowing much more about the Iron Lady, than I actually did.