Fresh off her win at the Oscars, I wanted to watch this biopic on UK’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Meryl was great playing Julia Child in Julie & Julia and she is so great at playing formidable, female characters. While I’m a child of the 80’s, I have selective memory from back then because… well, I was a child! So I’m aware of who she is but I don’t know much about her policies while she was serving in office.
I knew Thatcher was conservative and controversial but I assumed she was only unpopular when she first became PM. I didn’t realize that she resigned her post after being challenged by someone from her own party. For me, I guess she’s like Obama. She’s UK first female Prime Minister but doesn’t quite live up to the hype.
The film goes back and forth between the present and her memories of the past.
It shows that the aging former Prime Minister has symptoms of Alzheimer’s, which was disclosed by her daughter back in 2008. Some have criticized the filmmakers for being insensitive since the former PM is still alive and has her talking to her dead husband as if he were still alive. But I’ll give the latter up to creative license. She’s a public figure and scrutiny just comes with the territory, especially if you are doing a biopic.
I can see why Meryl won for Best Actress and why the film itself was ignored for Best Picture. She really got the little nuances of Thatcher’s persona, her manner of speaking and her accent. Streep is excellent when it comes to accents and I read that she did extensive homework by watching old footage of Thatcher.
Also, Alexander Roach and Harry Lloyd did a great job in playing the young Margaret and Denis Thatcher, respectively. I wish we got more scenes with them as I strictly felt the scenes we were shown were mere glimpses into Thatcher’s past.
And that’s the thing that really hinders this film. The writing is definitely one-sided focusing more on Thatcher’s failures rather than her successes. All I seem to take away from her victory with the Falklands War was that she was lucky that it all worked out well. It didn’t seem like her successes came from her own making. I wish we had gotten more scenes from her childhood and scenes about what her relationship was like with famous public figures such as: Queen Elizabeth II, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan.
Because the aging and ill Thatcher is reminiscing about her past, that becomes our window into Thatcher’s life. I didn’t feel that that was the best way to tell her story as she has Alzheimer’s. It felt very disjointed and distant and a great biopic should bring these bigger than life characters closer to the audience. Instead, the movie felt broad and abstract and therefore it’s hard to feel an emotional connection with what was happening with our main character.