Thursday, February 16, 2012

Movie Review: Iron Lady

Lynda and I saw The Iron Lady at the Carmike Cinema on Tuesday night. Being a fan of Margaret Thatcher, and having seen a number of trailers, I was interested in seeing this. It is an excellent movie, and I found only one item about it disappointing: It was too short. The showing started at 7:05 PM. When you figure the ads for other movies and the concessions probably took 15 minutes, the actual movie started about 7:20. We were walking out after the credits at 9:05. That meant the actual story was just a little over 90 minutes. Since many themes were not fully explored, I would have liked at least another half hour.

I liked the way the movie started, with Thatcher walking to a small grocery store unnoticed, some number of years after she left the prime ministership. She then returned to her apartment to hallucinate about her dead husband. The thoughts of that old woman kept going back to two different eras, with one vignette into a third. The views of Thatcher's entry into politics as a young, single woman provided information I had no prior knowledge of. There was also one view of Thatcher's childhood.

Most of the flashbacks were to the years Thatcher was prime minister. This time I expected to know much about. However, I was surprised to be watching scenes I knew nothing about. The riots by striking workers, the IRA activities in England, the bombing of the hotel where the Conservative party was holding a convention—I didn't know of any of that. And I realized: Thatcher was prime minister from 1979 to 1990. I spent five of those years in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In the pre-Internet, pre-cable and satalite TV era, those two countries were not actually places where news coverage was complete. I never heard of most of that. It gave me a greater appreciation for her accomplishments. I had an idea that she changed the U.K. with relatively little opposition. I learned instead that she did it in the face of much opposition.

The move was well put together. Meryl Streep is very believable as Thatcher. The mixing up of times, including Thatcher interacting with her dead husband, kept you on your toes as to what was happening. Given the amount of time in the movie, they really didn't explore some things as much as I wish they had, such as Thatcher's road to conservatism in her youth, or the relations between she and her children. They alluded to some degree of estrangement, but weren't very specific.

The Iron Lady may have run out its string in the theatres, but if you haven't seen it, and have a chance to see it, by all means do. It's well worth the price.

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