Regardless of your political persuasion and love her or hate her you can’t deny that Margaret Thatcher stamped her mark on British history and, as the first female Prime Minister, merits attention. I grew up in the Thatcher years so the dramatic images of the various scenes spanning her political career – from the miner and refuse strikes, the IRA attacks, the Falkland Islands war, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, the years of individual success and ultimately to the poll tax riots - were poignant. Strangely, privatisation and council home sales didn’t feature.
There was lots of tea drinking, hats, scarves, pussy cat bows, pearls and blue suits. Her image makeover was memorable. The House of Commons was portrayed as a noisy, riotous, pugnacious and ultimately treacherous place. I couldn’t help see the parallels between the social unrest when she took over power and implemented deep cuts with today’s situation.
Meryl Streep portrayed the frail, grieving, confused, lonely, delusional leader both sensitively yet powerfully – as all the reviews have indicated. The unpalatable favouritism of Mark and disappointment with Carol were conveyed. The images of her creeping around her own house and eaves dropping on her carers must strike a chord with the elderly and infirm everywhere. Yet the “woman in a man’s world” angle didn’t dominate as much as the drunk (or mad) on power lady “who’s not for turning”.
However, the stand out performances for me were the brilliant Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher, the magnificent Richard E Grant as Michael Heseltine, the loyal Nicholas Farrell as Airey Neave and, best of all, the adorable Harry Lloyd as the young Denis Thatcher.
Whilst hating the final scene with rose petals and opera, I came out of the cinema feeling sombre and reflective – it’s a beautifully sad film. Her statement about doing something rather than being someone seemed so apt for today’s celebrity culture and Denis’ comments about duty versus ambition must be noted by today’s politicians.
I guess the undertone of the huge impact of her father’s small business man philosophy should also be mentioned – as well as how, when the UK starts turning its back, our best states people always move swiftly to the world stage. Whilst the Iron Lady might not earn everyone’s sympathy, you can’t ignore the film’s rather sobering reflections on how loss and old age are universally inevitable facts of life.