Meryl Streep's Iron Lady is for those who have "been properly in love," as Piers Morgan is wont to put it to guests on his CNN show. It's for those who have loved so much they have ached when their loved one isn't around. Meryl Streep gives the performance of her life in this film, so I wasn't surprised when she took home a Golden Globe last night. She also deserves an Oscar for her portrayal of the love match between Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her late husband, Denis.
Iron Lady is also for those of us in "the sandwich generation" -- sandwiched between taking care of our kids and our parents as they age. Anyone who has ever been in the role of caregiver (most women), will totally relate to this film. I am not a fan of Margaret Thatcher's politics, having lived through the Reagan/Thatcher years. But you can't help feeling for this woman as Streep portrays her. You will not recognize Meryl in the opening scene of this film as she fumbles for change to buy milk. I kept wondering if another actress had been hired to play Thatcher in her eighties. It couldn't be Meryl. But it is. Heart-rending.
Any woman who has ever held a job that has traditionally been a man's job will recognize themselves in Streep's portrayal of Thatcher, too. When she decided to run for political office in Britain, Thatcher was told her voice did not convey "authority." So she took voice lessons to learn how to breathe properly and lower her pitch. Not unlike when they first started hiring women in broadcasting in places like Cleveland, my hometown. We were told our voices were not "authoritative," too. At the time, we believed them. I remember listening to my voice on a tape recorder playing it back over and over trying to sound more "authoritative." I was hired as the first woman news anchor at CBS affiliate WJW-AM Radio in Cleveland, home of the birthplace of rock 'n' roll courtesy of legendary deejay Alan Freed. Yet somehow the sound of a woman's voice on-air might be too jolting for the listeners to hear.
Hearing all the women's broadcast voices on the air today, I have come to realize our voices were just fine in those days. "Authoritative" was simply a code word for "no women need apply."
Lest you think Iron Lady is just for women, it's for men, too. Thatcher's husband, Denis, played by Jim Broadbent, is a great role model for men on how to love, cherish and support an intelligent, capable woman. Go see it. Make it a date night. For women. And the men who love them.