Monday, April 8, 2013

The Iron Lady

And a long-awaited salutation to you all. I begin this post as if I were continuing a recent thought, which is misleading since it has been two weeks since my last post. Even that post was a false one because it was merely sending birthday wishes to Ms. Carrie Bradshaw. I just watched Did You Hear About The Morgans? Again. There, she portrays her typical persona: pretentious, self-absorbed, obsessed with everything New York solely because of that pretentious trait. It, really, is quite humorous. Let's move on, shall we? What inspires me to write on this day is the death of a major political figure. Indeed, I do not usually delve into that archaic region of politics, but this serves as an exception on account of an eerie coincidence. This morning, former British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher died following a stroke in London. She served as Prime Minister for eleven years--the longest any has served in the twentieth century--and was the first woman to do so. Revered for her stark conservatism, Ms. Thatcher (she is, officially, Baroness Thatcher, but Ms. is much simpler to say and type) was a political stronghold in her country as she faced economic issues. At the head of government, she interfered with state-owned industries, struggling mining industries by closing or privatizing them; also, public spending was dramatically cut, invoking fear among the employed and her fellow conservatives. A considerable slice of the population loathed Ms. Thatcher for her stern policies and "iron" will, yet she improved the state of Great Britain in her eleven-year reign as Prime Minister. Today, the world mourns her passing, breathing a sigh of grief accompanied by sincere statements of gratitude and admiration, of respect. Now, I do not know much about Margaret Thatcher, unfortunately, and sought to learn more about her by watching a certain film from last year. And what makes Ms. Thatcher's death today an eerie coincidence is that I just watched the film a few days ago.

Starring Meryl Streep as the formidable Prime Minister, The Iron Lady is a film that depicts the extraordinary reign and life of Margaret Hilda Roberts, later to be recognized as Baroness Margaret Thatcher. This is what I expected, an in-depth account of her time in office, of her renowned stone policies that made her such an icon of British conservatism and an effigy for many Brits. Alas, I was disappointed yet again by tantalizing Oscar fare. The only consolation I received was the remarkable performance of Meryl Streep, the Iron Lady of Cinema to be sure. She rightfully earned a Best Actress Oscar, if you are not already aware; moreover, this, and the award for Best Makeup, were the only worthy accomplishments of the film. As an entire production, The Iron Lady was, to aptly describe it, underwhelming and disappointing. Rather than depicting the interesting segments of Margaret Thatcher's life, emphasizing on her reign as Britain's most menacing yet effective Prime Minister, the film merely shed a teasing glance on those portions, of which there were few to begin with. For the most part, the film focused on an elderly Thatcher as she struggled with dementia and letting her husband go. Might I mention that he had been dead for quite some time at that point. What one can anticipate, therefore, is a fragile, old woman--who, indeed, bears a striking resemblance to the actual figure, in both appearance and mannerisms--conversing with her late husband as she dwells on the past. This sizable chunk (the term felt necessary) of the movie serves as the foundation, the centerpiece of an otherwise mediocre biopic. One cannot even call this a biopic, for very little of the individual's life is explained in detail as it should be. Allow me to paint a succinct image of what can be expected. Elderly Margaret Thatcher butters her toast at the kitchen table with her late husband (therefore, a ghost) as she complains of the increase in the price of milk. Cut to a memory of her past. Perhaps the moment she was accepted to Oxford--a stunning revelation for a humble daughter of a grocer. Perhaps the time she spoke out at Parliament comes to mind, as she asserted herself as one to be reckoned with. Perhaps Great Britain's conflict with Argentina involving the Falkland Islands is the center of recollection, which proved her effectiveness as Prime Minister. Or perhaps these events are mentioned in a cursory manner after returning, immediately, to the forgetful elderly woman who hallucinates. If the audience wishes to learn more of the Iron Lady through means of cinematic biopic, there is nothing to see here, other than the sad existence of the old Margaret Thatcher after her reign as Prime Minister. Like with Lincoln, the title is very misleading: instead of receiving the satisfaction of an objective, thorough biography, the audience is granted a meager and rather uninteresting slice of the person's life. The film would be more suitable as being called Letting Go: Margaret Thatcher and her Grief. Or something like that. The film in question is absolutely, not at all, the fully developed biopic it could have been.

Of course, every film has a silver lining. Silver Linings Playbook, on the other hand, is all silver lining. It is a truly wonderful film, you should see it. The bright side in this upsetting scenario is the First Lady of Cinema, Ms. Meryl Streep, in a remarkable on-screen transformation that will surely stun viewers. Watching this film will feel like sitting in a room, up close and personal, with Baroness Margaret Thatcher herself; so, if she intimidates you, best to proceed with caution. I've only seen interviews with the actual figure, though my bewildered expression (if you could see it) should assure the accuracy of the actress's performance. Excuse the disturbance, but don't you despise those who respond always with a defensive denial? Such as in a situation where the mother accuses the father of being too harsh on their young child, and the father states he is doing nothing wrong...when, in fact, he is being an insensitive brute? I simply abhor such individuals. From the uncanny resemblance (which can be dedicated to the outstanding makeup) and forceful yet melodic intonations, to her imposing demeanor and the credibility of her on-screen threats. Meryl Streep, once again, has proven herself as a master of her trade by becoming the icon which she was instructed to portray. When she is approached with a task--no matter how challenging--she is determined to bring that figure to life on the screen. And, by jove, she has done it again.

Today marks a day of tragedy and unsettling coincidence. How incredibly alarming is it that, after a few days of watching a film, the person that very film is centered around passes away? Absolutely bizarre. Whether my viewing of the film contributed to the untimely death or not, Margaret Thatcher is bid a fond farewell, and whether the world likes it or not, she most certainly made a profound and beneficial impact on the country of Great Britain. How, I cannot know for the time being until a more enlightening film is made with Meryl Streep reviving the role once more.

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