Film Review: The Iron Lady

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No. No. No.

Margaret Thatcher was no feminist. Any currency that came with her sex was devalued before it could be spent and privately thought to be worthless by its user. The caveat is important because this is a feminised take on its subject.

Director Phyllida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan have little more than a passing interest in the philosophy that we now know as Thatcherism; an attempt to understand it is never developed further than Margaret’s relationship with her grocer Father and his pronouncements on frugality and business; there’s no insight into the Tory premier’s changes to the social and political culture of Britain, just vague allusions; instead Lloyd and Morgan fix their gaze on Thatcher as a daughter, wife and mother – that’s the thread that’s pulled. The film duly unravels. The polarising political figure of post-war British politics demanded a substantial investigation into her life and career; we get a melodrama in which the detail is reduced to a set of footnotes.

The allegation that must be levelled against the film is that Lloyd and Morgan have leant heavily on Thatcher’s later years and the diminution of her faculties in order to extricate themselves from the mammoth task of trying to make sense of her time in office, and not just Thatcher’s key decisions, but the context of opposition in which she thrived. Using an old and confused woman’s memories as a framing device allows for the free association of ideas, a warped chronology, partial or perfunctory recollections of history. In short, it’s a poor biographer’s charter.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd

Country: UK/France

Year: 2011

Running Time: 105 mins


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