Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Review - the Iron Lady Is Released in Cinemas Today - Celluloid Thatcher: Not to Be Trusted: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Review - the Iron Lady Is Released in Cinemas Today - Celluloid Thatcher: Not to Be Trusted: News

Article excerpt

A new film delivers a touching portrait of the way Alzheimer's disease can muffle a mind once striking in its clarity. As a portrait of Alzheimer's, The Iron Lady is poignant. As a biopic of one of the most significant political figures of the 20th century, however, it just does not work.

It tells the story of Margaret Thatcher, tracking her rise from grocery counter in Grantham to Cabinet table in Downing Street - in flashback as an elderly Thatcher looks back on her life.

Thus we see plucky young Margaret (Alexandra Roach) meeting with snobbery and sexism from Conservative colleagues. "You may call it fiscal responsibility," she says, undeterred. "A woman would call it good housekeeping."

Thatcher, the film would have us believe, spoke only in aphorisms. "I cannot die washing up a teacup," she tells Denis Thatcher when he proposes. And when her daughter Carol is learning to drive: "The only thing you should remember is that everyone else is reckless or inept. Usually both."

By the time she is elected MP for Finchley, she has become Meryl Streep. What follows is a speedy, superficial romp through Thatcher's political career. Her tenure as education secretary is summarised in a parliamentary debate during the 1974 miners' strike. …

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