Margaret Thatcher’s friends ‘insulted’ by portrayal in upcoming film

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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Friends of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are reportedly disgusted with the portrayal of the conservative icon in the upcoming biopic, “The Iron Lady,” starring Meryl Streep.

The Daily Mail reports friends of Thatcher were invited to a private screening, and were appalled by the portrayal, calling it “insulting” and “insufferable.” One said, “I didn’t come here to see a film about granny going mad.” (Clint Eastwood talks new J. Edgar Hoover movie, former FBI head’s sexuality)

Apparently, Thatcher’s character in the film hallucinates constantly, imagining her deceased husband is still alive. The audience at the screening was most upset that the film takes such liberties with her health. Thatcher has suffered a series of strokes and has been unable to make public appearances, even skipping the unveiling of a Ronald Reagan statue in London. Reagan and Thatcher were political allies and friends.

“Any portrayal of Margaret Thatcher that does not show her as one of the titans of British politics in the 20th Century will be a travesty,” said Conservative Member of Parliament Conor Burns.

The film also contains inaccuracies about Thatcher’s marriage, showing an at-first-affectionate relationship with her husband, Sir Denis, devolving into one of resentment. Sir Denis was a supportive husband who told his wife: “I will back you all the way, love.” When she won, he told reporters he was “incredibly proud.” In the film, Denis berates Thatcher for putting “ambition before [him] and the children” and in another scene tells her: “Old girl, you have always been alone.”

The filmmakers defend the portrayal. Written by Abi Morgan and directed by Phyllida Lloyd, the film is billed as a story about “power and the price that is paid for power.” But the company, Pathe, says the film treats Thatcher’s health “with sensitivity” and acknowledges that the film is fiction, despite calling it “fair and accurate.”

“The Iron Lady,” which stars Streep as Thatcher and Jim Broadbent as Sir Denis, is slated for a December 16 release.