The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

‘The Iron Lady’: Politics, Power and Poignancy

As an American teenager, I find myself knowing embarrassingly little about Margret Thatcher, or British politics in general. Despite this, however, I didn’t find myself particularly hindered by my lack of knowledge while watching a movie marketed as the story of a important political figure.

“The Iron Lady” humanizes someone who is most often seen only as a political figurehead.

The movie follows the life of Margret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), England’s first female prime minister. The first time Thatcher is shown onscreen is as an elderly woman, after her years as Prime Minister and after the death of her husband. From there, the rest of her life is shown through longer and longer segments of memory.

Because the story is told from different points in her timeline, it becomes simultaneously a story about a grieving woman losing her mind, and a story of a strong young woman gaining political power. It is revealed in the opening of the movie, that Thatcher still believes that she interacts daily with her husband who has been dead for over a year. Her descent into what seems like insanity contrasts harshly to the younger Thatcher, whose clear vision and motivation allowed her to gain her political success.

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Despite the creative storytelling, the movie could have become a painfully cliche story about a woman in a man’s world and the struggles she faced. However, “The Iron Lady” manages to overcome this. The movie incorporates this idea through cinematically tastefully shots of her high heels among row after row of shiny oxfords, but it doesn’t focus excessively on it.

Thatcher, like many politicians, is often viewed as a vessel for her policies instead of a real person, but Streep’s performance does the opposite. Instead of concentrating on the choices she made as prime minister, the movie chooses instead to present a story of her as a person, and covers the difficulties that come with being a controversial prime minister. Meryl Streep embodies her completely and is absolutely mesmerizing–it’s impossible to take your eyes off of her.

“The Iron Lady” not only consistently employs beautiful cinematography, but also mixes in real video footage of important political events in with the material filmed for the movie. This serves to make the movie feel more real, and the intermixed gritty footage of the Falklands war gives viewers a sense of detachment between Thatcher as prime minister and the people of her country.

While Meryl Streep’s performance is captivating and mysterious, the supporting cast have equally brilliant performances. Through Margret’s interactions with her husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) and her fellow Parliament member Geoffrey (Anthony Head), the differences between her personal and professional life are revealed, and to some extent, these characters act as foils to bring out Margret’s large flaws.

The movie also does something that very few films do these days: it allows the audience to form their own opinions about the characters. Margret Thatcher is a very controversial political figure, and the film, instead of taking one side on her political issues, focuses on her as a person, allowing viewers to understand and evaluate her as a person instead of just as a politician. While the story overall isn’t anything extraordinary, Streep’s Golden Globe winning performance makes the movie totally worth the time.

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