Victoria Jelinek

The Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), now in her 80’s, is cleaning out her husband Denis’ closet (Jim Broadbent) and thereby putting his ‘ghost’ to rest. While doing so, and with the onset of dementia, she is confronted by memories of her extraordinary and controversial career.

The (side) love story between Maggie and her husband (as a ghost and as her foil) is interesting, humourous, and often touching. One can also almost relate to Maggie’s growing fear about her dementia. However, this film plays like homage to a woman who was divisive and ideologically driven and, as presented here, was this way with some justification. Sure, capitalism in theory is compelling, but once you factor in human nature, it’s incredibly flawed. Sure, she was a grocers daughter and so compared to the upper classes she was working class, but she wasn’t to the great majority. Sure, she went to university on a scholarship, but it was to Oxford. Sure, she was a pioneer by the fact of her being the only woman in Parliament at that time, but this was also a marketing tool for her.

Ultimately, Great Britain is still reeling from her actions – the miners, the unions, the Falklands, and the Poll Tax to name a few things – and, combined with “Reaganomics” in the U.S., her reign is arguably to blame for much of the disparity of wealth today. However, Meryl Streep in the title role is absolutely fantastic, and it’s because of her that one should see this film.

Another Year
December 17, 2010, 11:58 am
Filed under: Published film reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Gerri, a therapist, and Tom, a geologist, are happily married, but mildly concerned that their lawyer son is single. They don’t quite realise, either, how Mary, a fragile work colleague of Gerri’s, has come to depend on the couples’ friendship, and over the course of a year and Sunday gatherings, Mary makes a faux pas that puts a strain on the relationship.

The concept of Sunday afternoons in different seasons, focusing on a happy, middle-aged couple and their friends and relations, does not seem to suggest that there’s much happening. Watching a twee film about ‘cuppas’ in the garden after sessions at the allotment, with surface dialogue that’s all about trivia, seems more like TV fodder, but this film is good, even as its also as quintessentially English as it gets. Director Mike Leigh’s method here, as with most of his films, is that it’s a sitcom set-up in a drably realistic world, using trivial dialogue and embarrassment to dig deep into the psyche: that is to say, every tiny incident, spoken line, or look, registers. Lee also always uses very good English actors, who look like the English folks you see living next door to you in the UK – real people.

This film’s theme of loneliness, isolation and regret are all profound, as is its warmth.