The Movie Scab Reviews: "The Iron Lady."
"The scab you're picking at is called execution."
--American film producer Scott Rudin.
Monkey Boy rated The Iron Lady one Ack out of five!
The Iron Lady.
This is a totally dishonest movie. When I think of biopics, historical movies based on the lives of people Hollywood seems to think we'll pay money to see, I think of The King's Speech or Lawrence of Arabia--you know, movies that actually focus on the lives of the people they tell you the "historically accurate" movie is about.
The movie Ray is about the life of Ray Charles. The movie Walk the Line is about the life of Johnny Cash. Ghandi is about Ghandi. Wyatt Earp is about Wyatt Earp. Savvy?
The Iron Lady is about an old Englishwoman slowly slipping into dementia as she potters about in the kitchen searching for her jar of Marmite because she's wants it on her buttered toast. Insert upper-crust English accent here: "Toast?--where's the butter?--what's that burning smell?--it smells like toast--where's the Marmite?--oh bother!" It's about an old Englishwoman going so crazy she's having long incoherent conversations with her dead husband's ghost--as she searches for Marmite and her buttered toast!
When I bought my ticked for The Iron Lady, the ticket seller told me it was a movie about the extraordinary life of Margaret Thatcher, conservative Prime Minister of England. As it turned out, the ticket seller, along with the people who made this movie, lied.
This is a movie about a woman who is losing her mind because of old age. It should have been called The Old Crazy Iron Lady.
Meryl Streep pretends to be Margaret Thatcher, and yes, her performance is, well, pretty darn good. It didn't make me want to convert to Streepinism, sell my personal belongings and live in a commune dedicated to the worship and acting of Streep, but the amount of talent and skill Streep used to create the character is clear. It's great acting, but I'm going to tell you a secret: it's the makeup that makes it work. The makeup should get the Best Actress Academy Award--if not the literal award, it certainly deserves a nomination. The old lady makeup is truly remarkable. Streep's performance owes a lot to the makeup effects crew (since she's in old lady makeup for most of the movie!).
But Streep's natural talent and acting skill and the excellent makeup cannot save this disaster of a movie. And the reason is simple: it's not about the life of Margaret Thatcher! It's about Margaret Thatcher being old and going loony-tunes. The flashbacks are brief and almost every one involves crisis that suggests Thatcher somehow caused the crisis, and at that point it struck me. They hate Margaret Thatcher. That's the only reason I could come up with why Hollywood would make the movie the way they did. There's no character development, hardly any plot development, and they don't even have the balls to go for broke and really show us how much they hate her, other than mildly, and I'd argue, rudely, suggesting that she's a doddering old fool in the present and a bold, brash, proud and rigid woman who caused crisis in the flashbacks. Her character is so one dimensional I think Hollywood has made movies about Hitler and given him more depth. You learn absolutely nothing about Margaret Thatcher, other than she's the "Iron Lady" because she's stubborn and has an inflexible will of iron and when she gets old she talks to her dead husband--all the time, apparently--and constantly searches for a misplaced jar of Marmite for her buttered toast.
Now, I don't care if you love or hate Margaret Thatcher, conservative versus bleeding-heart liberal--whatever, get over it, I'm going to the movies. But I do care when the bleeding-heart liberal bias of the movie-makers is so freakin' obvious that I can only conclude that they must hate Margaret Thatcher with a passion. That doesn't make for good storytelling. It makes for crappy propaganda.
Note to Hollywood: if you're going to make a biopic, just tell the story. Don't embellish it. Don't lie about it. Don't slant it to fit your personal bias. (JFK anyone?) Trust us, the viewing audience, to make an informed decision. We can handle the truth. But clearly, you can't.
Skip it and go straight to the bar.
My rating: ten short glasses with ice of Bell's whisky and soda, a pair of Ronald Reagan's underpants to cuddle with and as many Falkland Island beers as you can mange before passing out and dreaming of Marmite on buttered toast.