The Iron Lady Review

By Monday, February 6, 2012 6 , , , , Permalink 0
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 saw the teaser trailer for The Iron Lady some time ago, accompanied by stills of Meryl Streep in full Thatcher get-up. I was both horrified and fascinated. Although I was born when Margaret “Milk Snatcher” Thatcher was still Prime Minister, it was during the later years of her leadership so I don’t remember a world ran by Thatcher (weather that is good or bad is debatable). Whilst my history classes delved into British politics, my A Levels only covered until the Second World War so I’m somewhat oblivious to what it was like living in Britain in the grasp of Thatcherism. I have often gone with popular culture’s portrayal of our first and only female Prime Minister, particularly the Spitting Image puppet of her and pop songs (Morrissey’s Margaret on the Guillotine, for example: “The kind people have a wonderful dream, Margaret on the guillotine …when will you die?”) to understand what she was like. Ignorant to much of her life, I had a relatively open mind when I sat down to watch The Iron Lady.

The Iron Lady documents the life of Margaret Thatcher (played predominately by Meryl Streep; and by Welsh actress Alexandra Roach in her formative years); the first and only female Prime Minister of the UK. One of the 20th century’s most famous and influential women, the movie shows Thatcher’s life through the years by way of flashbacks, from her humble upbringing as a grocer’s daughter, to meeting husband Denis (played by the dashing Harry Lloyd when younger, and the amazing Jim Broadbent later), to her life as Prime Minister and beyond. We see how she came from nowhere to smash through barriers of gender and class, to be heard, and succeed, in a male dominated world.

The Iron Lady has faced stern criticism, largely because Margaret Thatcher and many of the characters in the biopic are still very much alive. There have also been some criticisms of factual inaccuracy. I found this film is more about a figure overcoming difficulties to succeed, rather than the events that punctuated her leadership. In fact, the film could have been about any successful woman; the main thing that I took from The Iron Lady was that it was a film about dementia, and grief. Her life as a political spearhead is very much by-the-by as Thatcher’s suffering is devastating to watch, especially in her elderly years seeking solace by conversing with the late Denis. The scenes are so heartbreaking that it doesn’t matter that it is Milk Snatcher Thatcher, one cannot help but empathise with her as she struggles in the grasps of grief.

The casting in The Iron Lady is wonderful, so wonderful that it may be the best thing about the film. Meryl Streep is frighteningly convincing playing the 1980s Thatcher associated with some of the worst times in British history. Similarly, Jim Broadbent is, as always, fantastic providing much of the well received comic effect, offsetting the heavy-going tone. Ignoring Streep’s heavily made-up face, she is quite simply stellar.

  • Rob
    February 6, 2012

    Meryl Streep has put in an outstanding performance in The Iron Lady but she’s up against tough competition with Michelle Williams and Rooney Mara also putting in excellent performances this year.

    • Amy
      February 8, 2012

      Really Rob? I didn’t think anyone could compete with Michelle Williams’ performance in your eyes!

  • Andina
    February 8, 2012

    Glad you liked it. I guess it’s true that it faced many criticism because the characters are still alive. I read that Margaret’s children said that the movie was like a fantasy. Too bad, but there were parts that were good. Great writings!

    • Amy
      February 8, 2012

      Thanks Andina!

      I was listening to a show today where Olivia Colman was talking about how she prepared for the part of Carol Thatcher and how nervous she was about it, I thought she did a brilliant job as well.

      It’s a shame it’s received so much criticism, as it’s a great film.

  • Dan
    February 8, 2012

    I haven’t yet seen this but I do think Abi Morgan – a very talented writer in her own right – was right to structure the story as she did. I’ve heard some of the criticisms and I think the film was bound to divide audiences since she is still a hated figure amongst to many people. That said, to avoid some of the most obvious questions will always cast a shadow over the quality of the film.

    This is a well written review though – a very interesting read!

    • Amy
      February 8, 2012

      Thanks very much Dan!

      I haven’t seen any other of Abi Morgan’s work, but I’m very interested to. She is a talented writer, and I think it’s pretty brave of her to tackle a figure that evokes so much emotion (negative or positive, as you say). She does it brilliantly though, it was an enjoyable watch. I don’t think it’s deserved of all the criticism it’s received really.

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