Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Iron Lady, a Life, Bereavement and Dementia

Your humble wordsmith was very excited today - excited enough to refer to himself in the third person!

Yes, for the first time in many moons yours truly and Mrs H went off on our own to the cinema. We left the eldest in charge of "babysitting"  and headed off to see The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep.

I had heard the review of Mark Kermode on his 'wittertainment' podcast, and the opinions of many others, and I have to say I enjoyed the film a great deal. Dr Kermode (old Trotskyist that he is) made some political comments of this not being right, and that being skipped over, but I think he misses the point. The film isn't so much about the history of politics, but rather the history of a person who just happens to have been political.

It is a personal story of fighting to achieve, family versus work, climbing the social ladder and finally "betrayal," bereavement, loneliness and dementia. Love or hate Maggie Thatcher (the Marmite politician), you cannot help but feel some empathy for her as an individual by the end of the film. Of course she is a person who polarises opinions, whether on the Unions, the Falklands, the Poll Tax, the Miners' Strike, Northern Ireland (all of which is touched on in the film); but to my mind we are the poorer without figures like that (and I do not agree with all she did by any stretch of the imagination).

As she says in the film, it is the difference between presentation or "feelings" and ideology or "thoughts" and since Tony Blair (though he too polarised opinions), and the advent of spin for spin's sake, the days of heavy ideology have taken a back seat to the flim-flam of the politics of focus groups.

So if you haven't had the chance to see this film you should do so. The nostalgia (if that's the right word!) of the Winter of Discontent, the Falklands, IRA bombs and Poll Tax riots are the backdrop to the personal story of a grocer's daughter who "climbed the greasy pole" with her husband, her constant companion, in the background - and even her constant companion after his death as she battles dementia.

No silly 3D glasses, no bimbos or six-packs, no sports cars or stuntmen, no cheesy plotlines or clunky dialogue-  just superb acting that encapsulated quite a chunk of British history, Westminster politics, and moreover the story of life, from working in a family business to coming to terms with the death of a husband and a life alone.

Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent and Olivia Colman deserve all the plaudits they should get for a thoughtful film that had me engrossed from start to finish. Bravo!

P.S. Just to let you know we stopped off for sausage and chips for the little ones on the way home.

P.P.S. Cardiff City even sneaked in a last minute goal to win 3-2 against Portsmouth. Little wonder I've been singing Lou Reed's Perfect Day...

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