Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Iron Lady (2011) – ★★★½

02Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Writers: Abi Morgan (screenplay)
Stars: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Alexandra Roach, Harry Lloyd

After reading a number of bad reviews about The Iron Lady, I expected it to be absolute hogwash apart from the performance of Meryl Streep. I think the criticisms were unfounded. It is a very good movie that shows a side of ‘The Iron Lady’ that I’ve never seen before. It does dwell on her Alzheimer’s a bit too much, and at times I wished that more politics were shown. However, as a result of seeing a large sum of her personal life, I felt much more connected to Margaret Thatcher as a person, rather than a politician. In this way, the film connected to me and kept me intrigued every step of the way.

The movie follows the story of Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), with a particular emphasis on her as an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s. 15 years after the death of her husband, she reflects on her time as prime minister while she clears out his clothes to give to charity. Her husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) is seen as her rock as she first enters parliament and runs for the Conservative Party. Now his ghost joins her to comment on her successes and failures as the film looks back at the most notable moments of her political career.

Meryl Streep’s performance was more than just a good impression of Maggie Thatcher. It showed a side of the woman that had many regrets, difficulties, and above all, a heart. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I believe that she gave an even greater performance than Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln (2012). The difference between their impressions was that Streep showed that Thatcher was as much a human being as the next person, whereas Day-Lewis played a man that seemed to know everything. She knocked it out of the park, and thoroughly deserved her Oscar for this performance. Keep in mind, I’m not even a huge fan of Meryl, but I concede that she played Thatcher masterfully.

I had no idea that Thatcher had Alzheimer’s in her old age. For those who did know this, I suppose they would have found the emphasis on her condition quite tiresome to watch in a film. As someone who only discovered about this by watching the movie, I loved the fact that it was explored in detail. One thing I would liked to have seen more of is the politics. It would have been rivetting if we saw more politics than just the occasional bump in the road. Oh well, this movie doesn’t let you have your cake and eat it too.

With an array of incredible quotes, a beautiful portrayal of ‘The Iron Lady,’ masterful performances, and beautiful music to accompany it every step of the way, I think Phyllida Lloyd did a great job at creating this homage to ‘one of the greatest prime ministers in the history of Britain. Although it doesn’t fully explore her period in politics, it explores her personal side to the point of making me care about her. That’s why it is a triumph.


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