There’s a great deal of tumult and controversy facing women in our current political landscape. Women face challenges, great and small, some shared with men, some uniquely female. I’ve spent much time reflecting on these issues—they’re close to my heart and never far from my thoughts. It’s through this lens that I approach this edition of Rave Reviews; two films about women, their stories vastly dissimilar, yet with great lessons both because of their fiction and because of their truths. Read on about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Iron Lady.
Rooney Mara, who stars in the title role of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is one of those stunning young actresses who’s currently taking Hollywood by storm, and not because she looks like a Barbie doll. On the contrary, Mara is what could be described as plain looking. But in order to play Lisbeth Salander, Mara needed to adopt not just Salander’s icy attitude and indifferent demeanour, she needed the intensely fierce, punk-goth look too. Something ill-suited to the Paris Hilton type. Playing Salander isn’t a gig that most young actresses could handle: portraying vulnerability and malice isn’t easy, not to mention acting out an extremely graphic rape scene. Mara is seamless. Leading man Daniel Craig, and supporting actors Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard pale in comparison. This movie is both easy and hard to watch. I got sucked into the story and the lives of the characters, but the horrors that Salandar and Craig’s character, Mikael Blomkvist, face are daunting. Now that I’ve been mesmerized by the world created by author Stieg Larsson, I’m looking forward to diving into the series on the printed page.
Unlike Salander, Margaret Thatcher was a flesh and blood woman who faced real challenges as the longest serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. Thatcher, the daughter of a shop clerk, rose through the ranks of the British Conservative party to become the most powerful woman in the world. Regardless of what I may think of her politics, she was an incredible woman and her personal accomplishments are inspiring. Thatcher is embodied by Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. In spite of the film’s sentimentality and overreliance on flashbacks, Streep is high-voltage, bringing snap to Thatcher’s step and crack to her parliamentary retorts. Streep’s delicate dance between Prime Minister Thatcher and the elder Mrs. Thatcher makes it clear why this year’s Best Actress Oscar ended up her hands. While the film itself is no great epic, Streep’s portrayal is riveting and worth every penny of the rental price.
These two incredible women, one small and one giant, one fictitious and one real, are both a delight to watch. Their stories make great film. Bring one of them home tonight and you’ll see what I mean.