The Iron Lady (2011)

2011, UK / France. Biography / Drama. PG-13. Director: Phyllida Lloyd. Writer: Abi Morgan. Cast: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant.

The Iron Lady takes a closer look at Margaret Thatcher in the evening of her life. Haunted by her glorious past, and rather ungraceful descent, as well as the memory of her loving husband Denis, she struggles to move on and to accept life as a mere senior citizen outside the political ring. Having said that, I must simply underline that this movie is of no political significance. It’s a straightforward drama of a has-been trying to accept the fact that those golden days are over.

It is a pity that the first biopic of such an important figure should choose to keep the intriguing subplots in a minimum level. Thatcher is rendered in a typically “the only woman in the company of men” story – and without any subtlety either. Rather than telling Thatcher’s important policies and the effects that they have made, the picture stylishly visualizes her as “the only bright blue amidst the black suits.” Director Lloyd’s decision to portray Thatcher as the only female in the House of Common despite the fact that there were more than a dozen others obviously underlines the word “feminism” in bold and italic.

And, to make the movie inspiring, the script went as cliché as inserting a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi, and Lao Tze’s “thoughts-become-destiny” wisdom. For goodness sake, Kung Fu Panda (2008) has a more original line! But, what disappoints me the most is the almost non-existent character development arc – the most vital thing in a biopic.

In many ways The Iron Lady reminded me of La vie en rose (2007) where the overall movie did not win as many nods as the lead actress did. Meryl Streep‘s Thatcher is in par with Marion Cotillard’s Edith Piaf – a breathtaking, total embodiment, and a showcase of acting in its highest level. Streep should try acting surprise no more as the Oscar goes to her – and it will go to her! And to the make-up department, too. What a fine prosthetic work!

Please come to see Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. But if you’re looking for reference on UK politics, buy yourself some books.

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