Iron Lady is a surprising, rather disappointing movie. Years ago, I read Margaret Thatcher’s biographie. I found it very interesting to read about her own views on what she stood for and how she wanted to achieve her goals. She was one of the first women at the international stage. In the Netherlands, until now, we never even had a female Prime Minister. So Margaret Thatcher is a woman we can learn something from.
In the movie The Iron Lady, however, we learn little about her views; the movie doesn’t even explain or pay any attention to the question how she could achieve at all to become Prime Minister as a woman in an ‘all men’ environment. On the contrary, we see most of the time an old woman who is having memories about her past life in short parts and sketches. She is already confused in a starting dementia, imagining her deceased husband around her most of the time and talking to him, sometimes even thinking that she is still Prime Minister.
In the various scenes about her life we see in the first place a woman who is Prime Minister, rather than a Prime Minister who is a woman. The focus is on her style much more than on her ideas, policies, views. Especially for a Prime Minister who lead a country through many changes, this is a surprising and also disappointing focus.
Research has shown that this treatment is reserved especially for female ministers. Journalists for example ask them two to three times more often about their private life and children than they do to their male colleagues. When they report about women in government positions, they report first of all about their style; however for their male colleagues, the main attention is paid to the content of their politics.
Nobody can say that Meryl Streep did not do a good job, because she was brilliant as ever. But she is not responsible for the script that chose to show one of the most influential Prime Ministers of the 20th century from a vulnerable side that is at least partly based on phantasy of the maker rather than as a strong and powerful person with ideas and the competence to realize them. Let’s hope another, more visionary movie maker will stand up and do the work that the Iron Lady movie has neglected to do.