Review – The Iron Lady

I saw this film last Thursday in Leicester Square – review below!

Making a film about Margaret Thatcher was always going to be a difficult task. On the one hand, you have a large group of people who continue to criticise the UK’s first and only female Prime Minister due to her controversial political decisions and disregard for trade unions; equally, there are a great deal of people who praised her 11-year run in British Parliament. Thankfully, director Phyllida Lloyd and writer Abi Morgan take this clash of ideologies into account and they have produced a film which isn’t overly damning or glorifying – after all, Lloyd has described the film as “not an objective biopic”. Instead it tells the film from the perspective of Thatcher herself – while this means the film can mostly escape inevitable controversy, it’s also one of The Iron Lady‘s biggest flaws.

The film is very much Thatcher’s retrospective of her quite astonishing political career. We begin the film with her in the midst of a rare escape from her London home, where she visits the local corner shop and is struck by the price of a carton of milk. As the words “milk-snatcher” echo in the audience’s heads, she returns home, where a group of servants fuss about her brief exit; Thatcher has had dementia in the later years of her life and is plagued by visions of her late husband, played by Jim Broadbent. What follows is a number of scenes (a large amount in montage) depicting her life, from her humble beginnings in a Grantham greengrocer to her eventual seat in the House of Commons, interspersed with scenes of her as an old lady.

The Iron Lady with her husband, Denis

Before anything else is addressed there exists the simple fact that Meryl Streep’s performance is stunning beyond all expectation. Streep is Thatcher, getting her movements, appearance, speech and mannerisms all down to a tee. She perfectly embodies the feisty spirit and boldness that earned Thatcher the title of the Iron Lady and come 2012 will likely be an awards magnet.

She is incredible, yet The Iron Lady dwells far too much on Thatcher as an old woman. At times, with its admittedly clever montage sequences, it’s almost as if the film is a documentary without a narration. It feels choppy and it neglects certain details of her political career. Despite this, it still has its moments, notably a hilarious exchange of dialogue between Thatcher and the US Secretary of State, and is a good representation of the price that Thatcher paid for power, even if its execution feels incomplete.

3 stars out of 5

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