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Friday, November 9, 2012

THE IRON LADY (2011)

No doubt, a straightforward bio-pic on Britain’s transforming Conservative/Tory Prime Minister was never a possibility. But it was an odd (and largely unsatisfying) idea to tell the tale via flashes of suspect memory as the retired P.M. drifts toward senility. And not much helped by a production that looks cable-ready, at best. An obvious plan might have shown her trying to hang on to power, after alienating most of her own party, while we jump back to see how her political principles grew out of a middle-class upbringing as a grocer’s daughter; her start in politics & the unlikely rise over the usual ‘suits; how her career was ‘saved’ by a ‘lucky’ war, only to watch it all go sour before she's ready to leave the scene. An even better idea might simply have stuck with the Young Margaret, it's the best/most revealing part of the film as Alexandra Roach’s young & bristly Thatcher finds her voice and her life partner in Harry Lloyd’s amused portrayal of young Denis Thatcher, a man who doted on her prickly personality and her paradoxically lofty, yet down-to-earth manner. Of course, that would have left out the film’s raison d’être, Meryl Streep’s powerhouse Maggie T., along with any commercial shot at the American market.* She’s certainly something in the role, though the ghost of Greer Garson keeps veering into view. Or did Mrs. Thatcher actually use Garson’s manner as a lady-like speaking/fashion template? And while the economic issues of the day have been ludicrously simplified and Argentine’s military might is probably misrepresented**, the film is neither a whitewash nor a hatchet job. And unexpectedly watchable.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Included with the Extras is a little puff piece on three other ‘historicals’ from the Weinstein Co.: CORIOLANUS/’11 via ‘director’ Ralph Fiennes; IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY/’11 from ‘director’ Angelina Jolie; and W./E./’11 out of ‘director’ Madonna. With a combined Stateside gross around 6 mill., these Harvey Weinstein vanity pics are ‘star f**king’ losses comparable to Sheldon Adelson’s Republican Super-PAC funding.

DOUBLE-BILL: **If you can roust up a copy, there’s a good Argentinian pic on the Falklands War from the POV of some conscripted Army grunts called BLESSED BY FIRE/ILLUMINADOS POR EL FUEGO/’05 that shows how politically motivated & ill prepared the invasion actually was.

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