Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Iron Lady

(Dir. Phyllida Lloyd, 1947)

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, The Iron Lady is a biographical film about the Britain’s longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher, played by Meryl Streep. Her remarkable story is told by flashbacks to various moments in her life from an elderly Lady Thatcher who is struggling greatly with the early stages of dementia. She finds herself constantly reminiscing with her late husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent) and is almost unable to distinguish between the past the present.

I usually do enjoy the whole flashback approach toward films like this but in the case of The Iron Lady I don’t think it works very well. It takes a while for things to take off and there is too much time on spent on the elder Thatch and her current mental state. I admit that  it does a very good job of showing us the audience the heartbreaking reality of someone who is suffering from dementia and how it affects not only them but their loved ones. But overall I just found it to be really depressing; which I’m sure was the point but it just didn’t work for me. And the little scenes between Thatcher her late husband Dennis are quite clever but it gets really annoying, in particular Dennis who acts more like a child than anything. I felt like shouting at the screen “Shut up and leave your wife alone!” Now with all that aside it is a very fascinating look at a very controversial world leader.

The film covers the significant moments of Thatcher’s early life and later on her years as England’s Prime Minister; such as the trade union strikes that brought England to the very brink of despair and the Falklands War. They’re not covered in great detail but enough so to make them entertaining and genuinely interesting. In regards to her character, her ability as a leader as well as her flaws is clearly highlighted. She is a fearless, determined woman, confident that she has taken the right course of action on the countless challenges that she is faced with. But her autocratic style of leadership begins to cause frustration among MPs within her party due to her refusal to hear other alternatives and opinions. Having said all that I don’t consider myself to know a great deal about Margaret Thatcher, in particular her political career so I can’t really comment in regards to how accurate the film is.

Meryl Streep’s performance is so good that it’s frankly a little frightening. However one could easily view it more as a very accurate impersonation rather than a performance. I’ve been watching a number of clips of the real Margaret Thatcher and it’s difficult to tell them apart; more so in characteristics as opposed to physical appearance in which there is a notable difference in my opinion. Performances from the supporting cast are also very good, who including Richard E. Grant and Anthony Head.

The Iron Lady is a solid biopic that I enjoyed despite its flaws. I recommended seeing it just for Streep’s performance along. – 3.5 STARS

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