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The Iron Lady on all channels

Monday, 16 January, 2012

Meryl Streep has won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role as Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady. By all accounts, her performance is nothing short of extraordinary, and she’s now the favourite to win at next month’s Oscars (nominations will be announced on 24 January). The Iron Lady How talented is Streep? In the New York Review of Books, Martin Filler takes a look at the evidence in “Deep Streep?” and returns a verdict that is largely negative. In between damning with faint praise, Filler veers off on a Prime Minister vs. The Queen tangent, before twisting the blade when concluding that “future generations will look back on today’s credulous admiration for the undeniably gifted but habitually histrionic Streep with a similar mixture of bafflement and bemusement.” Before Streep fans rush to strangle Filler, they should pay close attention to how his article is structured. The quantity and quality of links to YouTube allows the reader to measure the writer’s words against excerpts from the star’s body of work and this hybrid approach makes it much more difficult to dismiss Filler’s deduction as a figment of biased imagination. When it comes to film reviewing, this is clearly the way to go. Sure, it involves more work, but it’s worth it.

Elsewhere, Bloomberg, actually, Virginia Postrel joins Filler in highlighting the film’s weaknesses. In, “Iron Lady Falls to the Anna Quindlen Doctrine“, her objection is that the greatness of Margaret Thatcher has been reduced after a straining through the sieves of liberal and feminist and Hollywood groupthink. Again, an unflattering conclusion: “These supposedly feminist filmmakers could have portrayed Thatcher as an ambitious woman who had nothing to feel guilty about. Instead they chose to inject guilt where it did not belong. They obscured Thatcher’s public accomplishments in a fog of private angst. The portrait of dementia isn’t the problem. The way the film uses old age to punish a lifetime of accomplishment is.”

Oh, well. When film fails, there’s always the written word in the form of “There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters” by Claire Berlinski.


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