COMMENTS ON HOLLYWOOD
The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep won her third Oscar for her performance in this movie and there can be no faulting her acting. A large portion of her screen time has her face concealed under layers of makeup- another aspect of the film that earned its Oscar nomination and eventual win.
The movie tells the story of Margaret Thatcher from childhood through her rise to the highest political seat to old age, where she has recurrent hallucinations of her husband- Denis Thatcher (Jim Broadbent in another role where he’s married to a stronger female character after his turn as Iris Murdoch’s partner in Iris). After somehow evading her minders to buy milk from a store in which, tellingly, no one recognizes her, she returns home and over the course of a couple of days, she looks back on her life.
As biopics go, Iron Lady is pretty generic and there are those that will lament over a missed opportunity to delve into the woman’s politics, those who want a cinematic treatment of her policies and perhaps a decisive statement on what she represents in the England of today will be disappointed by the middle-of-the-road stance of director Phyllida Lloyd and screenwriter, Abi Morgan. For those either too young to remember the Thatcher years in government before her disgraceful ouster- an event, the movie purports, she is still bitter about more than a decade later- or do not care about it, the movie chronicles the rise of a strong female character as she triumphs above the classism- she is frequently referred to as the ‘Grocer’s daughter from Grantham-’ and chauvinism of her times to the highest office in the land and in doing so neglects her family- her son Mark lives abroad and from their phone conversation theirs is a strained relationship; now semi-senile and aged she looks back at some moments in her life with either nostalgia or regret (the movie can’t quite decide which).
It is this indecision that has caused the halfhearted critical reception of the movie. It is a clever way of avoiding attack from viewers with vehement opinions on the eleven years of Margaret Thatcher’s reign.
For Nigerian viewers, the decisive and ruthless manner in which she dealt with the Argentinean invasion of the Falklands must surely provoke some admiration for the Iron Lady especially compared with the manner in which the government let go of the Bakassi peninsula to the Cameroonian government with barely a whimper. Then again is the letter written by her, personally, to each of the families that lost a member to the ensuing war, telling the grieving families: “No British soldier will die in vain for the Falklands.” She made good on that promise. Over here, people die daily from bombs and the most personal touch the population receives is a visit to the site of the blast and terribly vague reassurances, on most days the government issues a statement from on high and life continues. Prime Minister Thatcher averred that the government will not negotiate with criminals and thugs, here the word ‘negotiation’ is brandished like a terrorist elimination weaponry.
Nigeria is yet to attain significant gender equality in terms of governing positions, but there are times when one wishes the testosterone suffused government had balls like Margaret Thatcher.
Oh, the irony!