This film did not get rave reviews, particularly in Great Britain where Margaret Thatcher is remembered vividly for breaking through the glass ceiling to become England’s first and only female Prime Minister, a position she held for 11 years.
Sadly, the film shows Margaret Thatcher as she struggles with dementia in her later years. Through flashbacks, the audience witnesses her long career and her life of four decades with Denis Thatcher who understands his wife’s need to follow a political career. She was first elected to the House of Commons in 1959, went on to become Education Secretary in 1974 under Prime Minister Edward Heath, an ineffective Prime Minister who was then defeated for the office by Margaret Thatcher in 1979.
Born into a lower middle class family, a grocer’s daughter, Margaret Roberts was admitted to the University of Oxford and was courted by Denis Thatcher whom she married and became the mother of twins Carol and Mark.
It is interesting to see Margaret grow into her position, having hired a voice coach and hair stylist at the urging of her Deputy, Geoffrey Howe, and to break into the world of snobbish male-dominated members of the Conservative Party which she embraced.
Her strength of character is shown with her decision to retake the Falkland Islands which were invaded by Argentina in 1982. She emerged on the world scene, became a close friend of President Ronald Reagan, and was successful in returning Great Britain to economic prosperity in the late 1980’s.
She made the mistake of accusing the Soviet Union of seeking world domination, losing the loyalty of her party. Her insistence on the poll tax led to the Poll Tax Riots and the beginning of her downfall. Rather than lose the next election, Margaret chose to resign her position in 1990.
The expose of her dementia in her later years has been criticized by movie goers. However, this depiction gave Meryl Streep some of her best moments in the movie. Her rendering of the growth and decline of Margaret Thatcher has been declared her best accomplishment in her movie career. Streep received her 17th Academy Award Nomination for The Iron Lady and accepted her third Oscar for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. She also earned the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for this same role.
It would be unbecoming not to mention Jim Broadbent’s performance as Denis Thatcher and the two young British actors who portrayed Margaret and Denis in their early years together. They rounded out what I believe is a formidable representation of this grand lady’s life story.
Movie – The Iron Lady (2011)