Disappointed over no Tony Starks cameo.
Meryl Streep provides a portrait of Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister of Britain, whose political career and determination changed the rules that had limited women’s opportunities for leadership.
It seems like 2011 will probably be best remembered for the year of the big disappointments. With films such as ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘J. Edgar’ just to name a few, a lot of films that have been hyped for the big awards-contenders have all seemed to anger people more than astonish. This one can now be added to that list as well.
Director Phyllida Lloyd (‘Mamma Mia!’) is a director who is obviously trying really hard to be taken seriously as a drama director, and even though she may need some more help in that department she still makes this film enjoyable to say the least. There is a lot of stuff about the obstacles in Thacther’s life that she had to deal with such as the Falklands War, the IRA, people that were always looking for a way to oust her, and giving people taxes that they didn’t like so much. There is a lot of this shown and plenty of the happenings that were occurring in Britain are shown through actual news reel footage which were at times disturbing and very clear as to what mayhem she really was causing. In some cases, re-creating what happened would have been a great idea, but using this archival footage added a lot to the whole history of Britain and what Thatcher was doing.
The script itself is pretty good and provides a very good history lesson but there’s something that’s off about the structure of this film that takes away a lot from making this a normal biopic. We are shown Thatcher’s life through flash-backs from Thatcher herself, when she is terribly old and going through dementia having constant hallucinations of her dead husband, Denis. This was bothersome for a large portion of the flick because it constantly kept going back-and-forth and whenever we would start to get back into Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister, the film would then cut right back to old Thatcher being all crazy and talking to the wall. It almost has the same structure like ‘J. Edgar’ where we see an old version of the icon talking about the past, but in this case, there was too much of the old stuff and a lot less of the actual flashback stuff where we got to see Thatcher work her magic. The other thing I never understood was that she was so cooky and grief-striking but she still has enough sense and energy to rant and rave on about things she did back when she was Prime Minister to people such as her doctor or maid. It’s very strange to see this but I guess Thatcher really is a old woman among old women.
However, the problem with when we are at the flash-back sequences we never really get a sense as to whether or not what Thatcher is doing is right or wrong, and it doesn’t seem like the people who wrote or directed this had any standings either. I liked seeing all of the things that Thatcher did and whatnot but the film never reflects on if they were bad or not considering everybody who lived in Britain at the time, wanted off with her head. I guess that they were trying to take the easy way out and just bringing the British history text-book out to film but a little bit of opinions here and there would have been nice to see. You can also never tell what is fact or faction considering a lot here is about Thatcher’s life and only she would know what happened herself, so there’s a lot of actual guessing there.
A lot of these problems did go away when I realized that I was watching Meryl Streep on the screen. Streep is just about perfect in this flick as Thatcher basically taking over every scene she has while knocking down every mannerism and accent down pat. When Thatcher’s in her glory years as Prime Minister, it’s great to see Streep shine and show a lot of that powerful strength she has an actress that can take a scene and put the attention on her right away without you thinking about anyone or anything else but it’s her scenes as an old lady that are even better. Older Thatcher is a very sad and lonely gal and we feel this through Streep’s performance as she constantly shows how much her character never understands what she has done to her country and the effects that it had on everybody around her. It’s a great performance from Streep and she brings a great mix of charm, likability, and sadness to a character that needed it most of all.
The other good performance given here is by Jim Broadbent as her hubby, Denis. Broadbent is playing that usual quirky, somewhat goofy dude that always seems to lighten up the mood no matter what the scenes tone may be. Him and Streep have great chemistry and it really made me feel like they were in love, but the film doesn’t really focus on him all that much as it is more or less about Thatcher and what she does for her country which was kind of a shame considering the film could have really benefited from some real drama if they actually showed more scenes with each other when he was alive. There isn’t really anybody else worth noting in this cast considering that Streep takes over the spot-light which has its obvious positive but also negative effects.
Consensus: With an amazing performance by Streep and a great history lesson on Britain during Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister, The Iron Lady will definitely entertain most people, but when it also has problems with its structure and the fact that we never ever really know if what Thatcher is doing is good or bad for the country that she so rightfully loves.