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Thatcher movie opens in Argentina to tough reviews

February 2, 2012

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Meryl Streep may have been nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady,” but Argentine critics panned the film during its premiere in Buenos Aires on Thursday.

The film opened in Argentine theaters amid a furor over the Falkland Islands, which Thatcher’s Britain and Argentina fought a brief war 30 years ago. In the movie, Thatcher is shown ordering Britain’s military to sink the Argentine warship Belgrano, which killed 323 sailors and remains controversial because the ship was considered to be outside the war zone.

She also dismisses the entreaties of the American ambassador to settle the dispute peacefully, suggesting that as a woman, she’s had to “go to war every day” to maintain her hold on power.

Reducing the decision to wage war to a question of feminism “is absurd, to say the least,” the newspaper Clarin wrote in Thursday’s review.

Others praised Streep’s acting, but panned the script as mediocre.

“A character so controversial for her own citizens, the citizens of the world and especially for Argentines, Thatcher deserves a better movie,” huffed La Nacion.

Buenos Aires and London have escalated a war of words ahead of the anniversary of the Argentine dictatorship’s ill-fated invasion of the islands on April 2, 1982. More than 900 soldiers and sailors were killed on both sides by the time Britain seized them back.

The movie tries to humanize Thatcher, but “it didn’t fool me,” said Mario Huguet, 75, a psychoanalyst who called her a word unfit for publication after seeing the premiere. “It presents her as a senile grandmother, but the Argentine dictators also got to be old and pitiful.”

Huguet’s wife, Nora, also 75 and retired, said they saw the movie because she loves Streep. “She’s wonderful. But it didn’t change my opinion of Thatcher.”

Britain has sent one of its most advanced warships, the HMS Dauntless, to the islands, as well as Prince William, a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, ahead of the anniversary.

Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou said Thursday that Britain has falsely accused his South American country of threatening another invasion in order to distract Britons from their economic worries.

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