The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep is such a show-off! She has given an Oscar-worthy perfor- mance in a sad, shoddy retelling of the tale of Margaret Thatcher, the storied Tory (...smile...) who came from nowhere to serve as England's first female Prime Minister in a male-dominated profession; AND she did it for eleven years. Unfortunately this muddy, disjointed film spends almost half of the running time on the most UN-interesting thing about her, which is her decline into extreme old age. What was the point? Most of us won't be firing on all cylinders when we reach our 80s.

When you consider the interesting events in Thatcher's life: her childhood as the daughter of a village grocer; her early attempts at politics; her college education; her courtship, marriage, and family; the Falkland War (which she likened to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, e.g., thousands of miles from home, but an action that demanded a reaction); the labour unions' ferocious opposition and riots; the collapse of the Soviet Union; the fall of the Berlin Wall; two bombing attempts on her life; and the death of her husband Denis after over 50 years together; it makes me sad to see so much screen time devoted to how delusional and unhinged Thatcher has become. Nor did I appreciate seeing Denis larking about as a sort of court jester, while Margaret feebly tries to chase off his persistent ghost.

Of course we see the best of the best:
  • Meryl Streep ("Julie and Julia") is peerless as the Iron Lady, as we watch her master lessons in poise, vocal control, public speaking, demeanor and political Dress for Success. ("Very well, I'll ditch the hat, but the pearls STAY!") How does she DO that?
  • Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher, has played this part before (the husband of a powerful woman losing her mind) in "Iris" and no one does it better. I'm sorry so much of his role was just filler to prove to us how barmy Margaret Thatcher has become.
  • Alexandra Roach ("Trap for Cinderella") is young Margaret. The casting matches the two actresses nicely, so nothing clashes.
  • Harry Lloyd ("The Game of Thrones") is young Denis. His physical comedy matches Broadbent's to a T, so I was convinced.
  • Nicholas Farrell (LOTS of TV) is Airey Neave, one of Thatcher's earliest and most constant supporters. He is killed in one of those IRA bombings. 
This PG-13 historical film left me, a history buff, frustrated. As a movie lover, I see this one as a terrific opportunity to tell a compelling story, which has been utterly wasted except as a showcase for a brilliant actress. Why doesn't anyone ever ask ME about these things?
Bottom line? Streep rules! The script? Not so much.
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This is a link to a trailer:
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