Friday, 16 December 2011

The Iron Lady comes to Manchester Town Hall

I didn't expect to leave Manchester Town Hall last night feeling sorry for Mrs Thatcher.

After all with clear memories of economic crisis,the death of manufacturing,rampant greed,miners strikes,the Falklands and the poll tax,those of us who were around in the 1980's would barely shed a tear for the Iron Lady.

Yet the film,on general release at the beginning of January,starring Meryl Streep as Lady Thatcher and Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher leaves one almost shedding a tear for a fallen warrior.

The screening,in the orange lit Great hall with Maddox's paintings offering a reflective glow,starts with a confused old lady battling to buy a pint of milk from the local shop,struggling to come to terms with her dementia.

She is not recognised and returns to her flat to a conversion with her dead husband ,brilliantly played by Jim Broadbent.

She's living comfortably but not luxuriously, surrounded by what's left of her life and an armed guard, while under the care of nursing staff.

It is Denis who almost leads the film with his continued conversation and reminiscing until at the end Margaret banishes him from the flat and her mind.

The flashback through her career are good.Her attempts to become a candidate in the 1950's finally successful in breaking into a man's world,her first appearance in Parliament,St Francis of Assisi in front of No 10 in 1979 and the Brighton Bomb where for an instance you believe that her husband has been killed.

The reason for the showing at the Town Hall was that the scenes in Parliament were filmed there,as filming is not allowed in Westminster and you get glimpses of the corridors as Thatcher hurries along,handbag waving,her able minsters behind.

It is difficult to fit the 30 year career of a top politician into an hour and a half,yet with the focus being the flat,and Denis,opportunities and events were missed.

Whilst her final downfall resulting form a virulent attack on Geoffrey Howe who had stood by her so valiantly during the economic crisis,her fallout with Nigel Lawson and Michael Heseltine,played by Richard E Grant were ignored.

The film,written by award-winning writer Abi Morgan directed by Phyllida Lloyd and produced by Damian Jones will probably go onto win awards as will the brilliant acting of Streep,who gets the voice, the intonation, the posture and the movement with breathtaking precision.

But if you want to see a better representation of her character,then take a look at BBC4's portrayal of her early career,the Long Walk to Finsbury with Andrea Riseborough as the young Mrs Thatcher

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