YES PRIME MINISTER
Meryl Streep’s Oscar-winning performance as Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady takes away from the fact that it is a wishy-washy portrait of a powerful—if unpopular—leader, the first woman prime minister in the Western world, and one whose policies had far-reaching consequences for Britain.
In India, biopics of dead political leaders have either been blocked or attacked when released; in this case Thatcher is still alive, and worthy of a much stronger, more politically aware film. It is also completely unfair—more so when coming from a female director—that a once powerful woman is seen as a helpless, dotty old woman who talks to her dead husband. It is like saying—look, women who try to compete with men in the political arena end up like this.
The Iron Lady, with Oscar winner Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Robins, who was a grocer’s daughter, and could never live that down in class-conscious England, must have clawed her way to the top, but her struggle to break the barrier is overlooked in favour of cutesy shots—like the top angle that sees her green dress and hat amidst a crowd of dark suits in Parliament, or her legs in sensible shoes. Her achievements, debatable policies, her strong will, her role in the Falkland War with Argentina, seem to be of no consequence—or, are at best just footnotes—in a film that clearly wants to discredit her, but doesn’t even do that with enough conviction.
Thatcher fighting to stay in power for 11 years, as her supportive husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) suffered jibes for being the one who wore the skirt in the home, is not something to be scoffed at. When today, in post-feminist times, women are still seen as decorative arm candy for male leaders, Margaret and Denis Thatcher had an exemplary understanding, but Llloyd reduces poor Denis Thatcher to a clown. The film does not have that crucial element needed to make a biopic of that amazing woman have any meaning—it does not have a point of view.