An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.
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Elderly and a virtual prisoner in her own home due to her concerned staff and daughter Carol, Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first woman prime minister, looks back on her life as she clears out her late husband Denis's clothes for the Oxfam shop. Denis is seen as being her rock as she first enters parliament and then runs for the leadership of the Conservative Party, culminating in her eventual premiereship. Now his ghost joins her to comment on her successes and failures, sometimes to her annoyance, generally to her comfort until ultimately, as the clothes are sent to the charity shop, Denis departs from Margaret's life forever. Written by
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Streep prepared for the role by spending months watching broadcasts of Margaret Thatcher, to learn her mannerisms and speech. She also spoke with dozens of people who knew her, including former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, who faced Thatcher in the House of Commons for seven years. See more »
In the closing scene, when Thatcher walks down the stairs of Number 10 Downing Street, a lighting rig is visible on the landing above her. See more »
I Whistle a Happy Tune
(Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II)
Published by Williamson Music, an Imagem Company
Recording taken from the original motion picture "The King and I"
Licensed courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation See more »
It's simply wrong to make a biographical film about a person, as extraordinary as Margaret Thatcher and devote, I don't know, 70 or 80% of the time to her rather depressing late years of deteriorating health, especially on the mental side. And the real life Margaret Thatcher is a rather private person who tried to keep her health problems secret. Thus, most of what this film presents is obviously a piece of guesswork. Moreover, Thatcher's children described the film as "left-wing fantasy" and we also know that Thatcher's daughter Carol was often with her during this period. So, what's the point of a film, that pretends to be "biographical" when 80% of it is guesswork at best, and somebody else's fiction at worst?
It is also highly unethical to delve into the mental condition of a living person who tried and tries to keep her private life and health issues really private. There are reasons why we call it "private" and doctor-patient confidentiality "confidential". It seems like those principles are beyond the intellectual (moral, or both) capacity of the Hollywood suits behind this movie.
Thatcher became a household name, not only in the UK, but throughout the world, and yet, all her political achievements are presented in a telegraphic style, sometimes just as segments of a news bulletin read by some news presenter. She was called 'the iron lady' by the Soviet propaganda machine in an attempt to discredit her image, her strong positions and alliance with Reagan formed the core of the entire Western policy toward the Soviet union resulting in winning the Cold War, and yet, the authors of this movie choose to completely disregard this side of her story, as if this was some annoying mosquito, just spoiling the bizarre shadenfreude fun they are having with the senile, 80-year old lady.
Thatcher herself is adamant during one of her fights with her husband that he always knew she puts her works first and yet, the film tries to focus on her private life issues, again, by means of sheer guesswork. Why? The only explanation is ideological spin, since the creators try to present the old and rather frail former prime minister as sad, doubting her past, and in some scenes she is even insecure not only as an old, senile lady, wandering around her digs, but also during her prime time, as a head of government. Priceless screening time is wasted while none of the issues she had to deal with is presented with any depth whatsoever.
Occasionally, the film is reduced to a vaudeville, as in the scene where she is about to enter her No.10 residence for the first time as a PM or employs one-dimensional clichés, such as the symbolism of Thatcher talking about 'taking the wheel in her own hands' and then pushing the car to the right, while her daughter is in the driving seat. What is the purpose of this demented symbolism? No matter how unwashed the masses are, they can still figure that this film is about a confident, self-made woman who takes matters in her own hands and pushes her country to the right. Why an obvious metaphor, pointing at the obvious?
The only true merit, that can be attributed to this unhinged and rather prolonged exercise in shadenfreude, is that it represents the true spirit of her public life in general a strong-willed, principled person, a woman with SPINE, successfully fighting against an intellectually and morally constipated establishment, unhinged left-wing militants and impotent political opposition. Well, the political opposition turned out impotent because it was Margaret Thatcher who single-handedly rendered it that way. There are some truly powerful moments, however, when the young Margaret was listening to her father's speech, clearly, his words having authoritative, formative, inspirational influence on what she was about to become, or when she masterfully fights off the attacks of both her political opponents and spineless colleagues.
Obviously, Meryl Streep is a very good actress, and she is spot on Thatcher's voice and mannerisms, but this is just good professionalism, nothing extraordinary, way too many actors are capable of doing that these days. Does she deserve another Oscar for this performance? If there is nothing better this year on the movie front in her category, hell yes.
The only reason this picture should be seen is as a weird example of how a biopic (of a person of Margaret Thatcher's caliber) should not be made,it's a half-baked distraction of what her real biography should look like .
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