The Irony of the Iron Lady
It failed to impart the lessons of an iron leadership, how a woman rose to power and declined in time.
BY Marivir R. Montebon
Best Actress Meryl Streep convincingly became Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with her impeccable acting in the Iron Lady (director: Phyllida Lloyd, writer: Abi Morgan), but the movie failed to give justice to the person of Thatcher, being one of the longest running political leaders and the only female prime minister (thus far) in Great Britain.
It is troubling for the Iron Lady to be woven in the theme of Thatcher’s old age, with an opening scene of the former prime minister leaving her house unnoticed to get a pint of milk in a nearby deli. It ended showing the worn-out Thatcher with a degenerative disease in bouts of confusion, swinging from hallucination to reality, that naturally happens as one gets old.
Although Streep’s acting was superb and all the technical aspects of the movie were masterful, what apparently became central in the movie was on how to deal with an old woman and melancholy. We are looking at the life of a woman Prime Minister here.
Margaret Thatcher is larger than life. The movie centered on her age, she being old, useless, wasted, and using her flashes of remembrance to lead us to the past on how she had been admired, and hated as a political leader. All throughout the film, it seemed I was hearing my grandmother being troubled by her angst. Where is the voice of the iron woman telling us her no non-sense leadership and character in the troubled times of Great Britain?
I expected to see something more dignified in the movie. Who honed Thatcher to become the beautiful and feisty woman that she is? She was an odd ball in her time, not the typical woman who found joy in washing dishes and taking care of children.
She was meant to be a leader. Who mentored her and how? These were clearly absent from the story and could have made it more inspiring.
Her brand of leadership, in the midst of the male-dominated Parliament, and her legacy, regardless of ideology, should have been made emphasis in the movie.
The Iron Lady was poignant and dramatic. It reminded us of an old woman’s loneliness and longing for things she had failed to do more like spending time with her husband and children, more than being political. That in itself was the irony of its title. It failed to impart the lessons of an iron leadership, how a woman rose to power and declined in time.
As it is election year in the US, perhaps the writer wanted to remind politicians to take it easy on their politics, because when they grow old, it would still be family that matters. I am trying to justify the theme. But nah, forget it, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher deserves more in this movie.