Friday, February 10, 2012

Review - Movie Catch-up January - The Iron Lady

The Iron Lady (2011) * * * * *
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anthony Head, Jim Broadbent and Richard E. Grant

From IMDB: "A look at the life of Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with a focus on the price she paid for power."

I was looking forward to seeing this movie in the weeks before it came out - the previews made it look amazing and Meryl Streep herself is always fabulous in everything she does.  Bob and I will go see anything she does, simply because she is in it.

So I was a little surprised when we walked out of the theater and I found myself to be just a tiny bit disappointed with the film and its portrayal of Margaret Thatcher.  The story is told through Margaret as an older woman having flashbacks to her youth and the important events in her life.  Generally, I have no problem with this storytelling method, as it can be quite effective, and in this case it was as well, except that in the present Margaret Thatcher came across as more than a little mentally unbalanced, which then made her memories of her past unreliable.  Also the way the story jumps from the present to the past and back again and just skimming the events portrayed made the story feel rushed, kind of like a highlights reel instead of an actual story.  I walked into the theater with relatively few memories of the British Prime minister, but generally liking Margaret Thatcher as an individual, but I walked out of the theater not liking her very much at all, but am unsure if that's really fair, as I don't know how accurate the portrayal of her as a person really was.

Possibly someone more familiar with the history and events of her life wouldn't have this problem.  It didn't seem to bother Bob in the slightest, but I kept wondering if this was the way it "really happened" or just her unreliable interpretation of the events.

Either way Streep absolutely shines in the role.  I was amazed at how thoroughly she sinks into the role and becomes Margaret Thatcher, to the point where she no longer even sounds like herself.  This dedication to her characters is why Streep is such an amazing actress in my opinion, and it is solely due to her personal brilliance that I give the film five stars.  But without Streep I would give the film 3 stars at most.


  1. You're right - she was absolutely superb in the role. :)

    I was a kid in the 80s during Thatcher's "reign" and remember well all the strieks and riots that happened during that time. It was not for nothing that she was known as "Milk Snatcher Thatcher" as she stopped the free milk in schools programme. She is pretty much the most reviled PM we've ever had, but also, conversely, one of the most admired, as she was just so damned determined and the first (and, to date, only) female PM we've ever had.


    1. I think that you've just hit the nail on the head re: my issues with the movie - During the 80's I was in my teens and didn't pay much attention to the news in general. I was too busy being a teenager. But I remember being in awe of how progressive the UK must be to have a female PM, and I apparently only noticed the good and wonderful things about Thatcher, and ignored anything that might not be fabulous. So to see so much of that portrayed in the film was a bit shocking for me.