I don’t usually get time to go to the cinema, working as much as I do – and certainly not twice in one week! If I do find an opportunity, it’s usually a quiet daytime screening. On Tuesday I set out to the Odeon in Maidenhead (my cinema of choice as it has a Costa Coffee branch downstairs and they let you take your Medio Skinny Latte in with you) for an afternoon performance of ‘The Iron Lady’. Much as I present a show called “Entertainment Now!” for Associated Press, I don’t always get the chance to see the movies we feature until they’re out on DVD!
On this particular rainy afternoon, I paid for my parking – £2 for up to four hours – which is always a bonus, only to discover that I’d only been given two hours, because the charge had gone up to £2.20 at the beginning of January. A 10% increase? Gah!
With time ticking inexorably forwards, I got to the box office only to be told that the afternoon performance for ‘The Iron Lady’ was for mothers and babies only. What? Since when do babies like going to the flicks? Apparently the showing keeps the lights on, and the volume is reduced. I remonstrated with the boy in the box office, and he said I could go and see the film if I really wanted to, but asked if I wouldn’t mind the screaming babies? He had a point. So I went to see Sherlock Holmes and The Game of Shadows instead (not nearly as good at the first one, but Robert Downey Jr is fab as always!)
I waited just over 24 hours to go and see an incredible portrayal of the first female British Prime Minister. It was the next evening that I booked a ticket, and got myself the right level of car parking! How strange, I thought, to be in a screening with so many other people. It’s usually almost completely empty when I go in the daytime. A woman with a large furry hat, perched jauntily on her head, sat in front of me, and I bitched on Twitter for her to take the stupid thing off, which she did eventually.
From the first scene, I thought Meryl Streep was incredible as “MT”. She captured the very essence of a woman who, for the formative years of my life, was all over every newspaper, television news bulletin and political debate. I recall actually being in Downing Street on May 4th 1979, the day after the General Election, and the day Thatcher came to power. It was half term, and I was standing opposite the famous black door of Number Ten. In the Seventies, ordinary members of the public like me and my Mum could wander along the parts of Whitehall never to be graced by mere mortals these days. That sunny Friday morning I was eating a chocolate ice-cream cornet and I remember looking up at Mum as she said to me “Remember today. This is a historic day for this country”. Little did she know the prophecy in her words! She meant, of course, the first woman Prime Minister, but to my nine-year-old self, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary that a woman could become PM!
The film is a remarkably a-political portrayal of the Thatcher years, neither stopping to dwell too deeply on The Miners’ Strike, nor The Falklands War, but giving enough time to each for us to remember how we felt at the time. It also doesn’t linger on the Yuppies and the boom or the so-called Poll Tax riots. Instead it shows a woman in her dotage remembering her past triumphs and ultimate demise. I would urge you to go and see ‘The Iron Lady’ for Streep’s performance alone. It is truly remarkable, and my Oscar money is on her.
MR Jan 2012
Internet Movie Database page for The Iron Lady