New Internationalist

Horror flick: Mrs T at the multiplex

January 2012
AP Photo/Scott Applewhite
Margaret Thatcher is The Iron Lady AP Photo/Scott Applewhite

Forget Scream, The Exorcist or Jaws: if you want a really scary film, the must-see movie release of the year features a demonic monster far more terrifying than Scream’s murderous Ghost Face, The Exorcist’s chundering child or Jaws’ fucked-off fish, and it’s all the more petrifying because it’s true.

The Iron Lady (aka ‘Thatcher – The Movie’) has just been released in British cinemas and I’m not happy. When I first heard they were making a film called The Iron Lady, I presumed it to be some spin-off from The Iron Man franchise, and that is precisely the worry. To many in Hollywood, the Iron Lady is as much of a hero as Iron Man, whereas for me the thought of Maggie as a noble superwoman doesn’t bear thinking about.

The other thing that raises my revolutionary hackles about The Iron Lady is that Meryl Streep is playing Maggie. I know: Schwarzenegger should have been a shooin. But Streep got the part, and that poses a huge issue, because I like Meryl Streep. I quite fancy Meryl Streep. What if I watch The Iron Lady and that bit of her that I’m a sucker for comes through and seduces me? I was on Dustin Hoffman’s side at the start of Kramer vs Kramer. I just can’t take the chance.

I want to emphasize that I wish none of the people involved in the film any ill will, but I really, really hope it flops. If it’s a hit, then the affection and praise it generates will, according to Thatcher’s own backing of the ‘trickle down effect’, provide her with a nourishing drip-feed of legacy-building publicity just before she pops her clogs. And if that happens, well, the whole thing will act as a lasting obituary for all eternity. Which would send me apoplectic every time it’s repeated on TV.

OK, I admit that the film doesn’t seem to be all bad:the casting of the young Thatcher, for example, sounds excellent. She’s being portrayed by Alexandra Roach, whose biggest role to date was playing a notorious child killer in TV drama The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. I’m saying nothing.

To many in Hollywood, the Iron Lady is as much of a hero as Iron Man, whereas for me the thought of Maggie as a noble superwoman doesn’t bear thinking about

Also, it’s directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who last year staged Macbeth the opera, so at least her experience of portraying witches is well honed. She first worked with Meryl Streep on Mamma Mia, which will have been a helpful window into how Thatcher ticked. I mean, we all know that the average Tory’s heart beats to the rhythm of Abba’s Money, Money, Money, don’t we? If you think I’m being a bit harsh, you should hear me about films I have actually watched.

So I’m not going to see it. Doesn’t mean you can’t go. Feel free. Jump in the car and drive to the nearest multiplex because, thanks to Mrs T and her neocon friends, the independent fleapit on the high street has been sold off and turned into a Nandos.

No I’m not going… definitely not… nope… well… maybe just a quick peek.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 449 This column was published in the January 2012 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 449

New Internationalist Magazine issue 449
Issue 449

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