So, prior to the coming stresses, we packed the kids off to watch Puss in Boots at the local multiplex today and - once they were out of view with their pound shop sweets - bought a 'how-fucking-much' size portion of popcorn and snuck in to watch The Iron Lady.
Not being much of a film-goer, this was an unprecedented second attendance in two weeks after our new year Sherlock Holmes jaunt which had already seen me exceeding my entire movie-watching experiences of 2011.
As the film is brand new, and promoted by a bit of a media frenzy, I'd expected the place to be quite busy. However, this is comfortably numb suburbia we're talking here, and with Mission Impossible and Alvin and his bleedin' Chipmunks also vying for short-spanned attentions, is it any surprise that only ten souls had ventured out to sprinkle themselves sparsely around and watch something a trifle more thoughtful.
We were curious to see what had seemingly upset both left and right of the political pallet, and for once I'm more inclined to agree with the lefties as the film surprisingly portrayed Thatcher in a very favourable light.
In the opinion of someone with an interest in politics, it lacked more detail of the issues she faced during her premiership, but presumably this is to attract larger appeal with populations who are increasingly unable (or unwilling) to understand current affairs or the history of them.
I'm assuming that the movie was designed to show a former world leader as being powerless as the rest of us in her dotage, but there were also striking scenes in the film which should make modern political players shift uneasily in their seats.
It reminded us that Thatcher - though many can argue with her politics - was uniquely driven by a sense of duty to the country, rather than self-interest. Those who shape policy in the 21st century have long since forgotten such a concept, as Streep's character succinctly described early in the piece.
"It used to be about doing something, now it is about becoming something."Yes, I think she was looking at you, Blair, and the current incumbent who is also just treading water until his lucrative book deal and lecture tour - not to mention the legions of lobbyists acting solely in the interest of their next grant or subsidy, to the detriment of the populace as a whole.
It's also good to be reminded that Thatcher was one of the fiercest illustrations of 'girl power' ever to emerge in the UK. Striding into number ten and sweeping the limp 'wets' in her cabinet aside, she embarked on proving that a woman can compete perfectly well with men should they have the quality to do so, instead of the modern trend of women beating men into surrender and dragging the whole country down to a simpering miasma of offence-seeking and effete terror of the world around them. Thatcher sought to drag the country up to be proud, resilient, and (a very rare quality these days) self-reliant. The current crop would make Thatcher's 'wets' seem like they had multiple wrought-iron spines by comparison.
In fact, the screenplay hinted at this difference in approach - rightly or wrongly - with Thatcher referring to the current PM as a 'smoothie', and at one point denouncing modern politicians as 'appeasers'. Not a trait Thatcher was ever comfortable with, as we were reminded in a scene where she dismissed Alexander Haig's suggestion of leaving the Falklands in Argentinian hands because they weren't politically or economically valuable.
The performances were impeccable. Streep, particularly, portrayed Thatcher's airs and graces brilliantly, and she nailed the unmistakeable voice of such a globally recognised person with aplomb, the fact she is native to a country which usually struggles with British accents makes her expertise even more impressive. Jim Broadbent also captured Denis's unvarnished character and down-to-earth wit extremely well, whilst Tony Head reined himself in nicely to mirror Geoffrey 'dead sheep' Howe's self-effacing nature.
At 105 minutes, it's not of a length which leaves you with a numb backside and an empty bag of jelly babies for the last half hour, and the photography is, at times, quite stunning. And, of course, the subject matter is some of the most interesting political times in post-war history, so it is very easy to recommend this as good value for your £6+ ticket.
As I mentioned earlier, lefties won't remotely enjoy seeing their bête noire being portrayed sympathetically, but the way right of centre politicians have lined up to aim subtle digs at the film is equally interesting. Cameron and others have questioned why such a film should be made "right now".
Considering it shows what a real Tory PM should be like, his comments can probably be translated to read that he wishes no-one had made such a film ever.