Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Iron Lady


Critical opinions seemed pretty uniform: Meryl Streep’s performance was awesome, but the film wasn’t very good. I agree with the first part, but not so much with the second. I felt it got rather weaker toward the end, and I question the strategy of trying to tell pretty much the whole life story of a famous person, rather than focus on one defining incident, but that seems to be the way most writers and directors choose to go. Well, whatever. And once that decision is made, a common way of addressing it is to have the famous person reminiscing about her past, justifying it, admitting mistakes, worrying about paths not taken, according to her temperament. I’m not wild about this, but I thought it worked better than usual here, at least partly because of her well-known senile dementia. The way the past blended into the present was, I thought, not only effective, but made me think about the nature of that condition, where people commonly can recall the events of fifty years ago with perfect clarity, but can’t recall breakfast. It struck me that this might be one of the very few good points of senility. Today sure as hell sucks, so why not spend your time in the good days of the past, especially if your past was as momentous as hers was. (Make no mistake, I loathe Maggie Thatcher and everything she did and everything she stood for, but there’s no denying she was a major force in world affairs.) The film is pretty much neutral on politics, just showing the things she did, including the massive ego growth—on top of an ego that was already massive—that made her impossible to work with, and shunned by her own party. There are those who will never understand that sometimes compromise is the only realistic path, and she was one of them. But in the end it all comes down to Streep’s performance, and it’s so stunningly good that I’d have enjoyed watching this movie even if it was total crap.