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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Iron Lady

Patrice and I went to see the film The Iron Lady on its opening day in Paris. We left the theater with completely opposite reactions.

I was mesmerized watching Meryl Streep as she portrayed Thatcher's declining health and descent into dementia. I loved the nuance in her voice, her regard, her every movement. I remember the Thatcher years in government, but did not have strong opinions regarding her political philosophy. For me, the movie was more than politics, more than history, more than a woman with an iron will. For me the movie was about marriage and family life and the price that one pays for political power. It is also a reminder of the ineluctability of illness, aging and death. I was entranced by the acting and the moving making, and less concerned about the historical legacy of a powerful and controversial political figure.

Patrice had a very different reaction. He appreciated the movie but he detests Margaret Thatcher and her political philosophy which is diametrically opposed to his own. "It's as if someone made a sympathetic film about Hitler," he said.

Whereas I focused on the superb acting of Meryl Streep, he only saw Margaret Thatcher and her conservative, anti-labor policies. He was incensed all over again by her political decisions, her treatment of labor unions, and her actions in the Falkland Islands. It made for an interesting discussion, however, and reminded us of another biopic which we recently saw in which another despicable historical figure, J. Edgar Hoover, was brought back to life by Hollywood.

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