Film Review: The Iron Lady
10th January 2012
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4/5There is a point in The Iron Lady when the young Margaret Thatcher tells her soon to be husband Dennis that she can’t marry him if he’s expecting to be married to a woman confined to look after his children and doing the washing up for all eternity, ‘I can’t die washing a teacup Dennis, I just can’t.’ Happily for Dennis, this isn’t what he wants for her, and answers that it is her very guile and defiance of convention that made him want to marry her in the first place. So hurrah for feminism! Burnt that bra, didn’t you Maggie! Well, not quite. A persistent problem with the film is that it tries to portray Thatcher as a feminist icon. Yes she faced opposition from a barrage of bespectacled sneering Conservative men throughout her life, and yes, she rose to the challenge and defied them all, but this does not a feminist make. Thatcher did nothing to empower women, either on a policy level or to herald a higher level of female MPs. What she did do was play on her gender – after verbally flattening the American Secretary of State about the issue of the Falkland Islands, she asks him how he takes his tea; ‘Shall I be mother?’ In terms of a biopic of the longest reigning Prime Minister of the twentieth century, this attempt falls a little short, superficially gliding through Thatcher’s early years; she seemingly went straight from Oxford to a seat in Parliament for example, and large parts of her premiership are glossed over.
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