THE IRON LADY

 

THE IRON LADY

 

By Gary Murray

 

Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent and Richard E. Grant

 

Written by Abi Morgan

 

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd

 

Running time 105 min

 

MPAA Rating PG-13

 

Selig Film Rating Matinee

 

Meryl Streep is the most lauded actress of her generation.  She has more Oscar nominations than any other performer and continues to show the rest of the world what an amazing talent she is.  Her latest is another indication that she is the greatest performer of stage and screen.  It is a bio-pict of Margaret Thatcher and is called The Iron Lady.

 

The film starts at the end of Thatcher’s life, with her career basically over and in retirement.  Her husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) is gone and she is having trouble letting go.  She is experiencing early symptoms of Alzheimer’s and imagines that her husband is still alive.  Having conversations with him takes us through the highlights of her life.

 

We see Thatcher as a very young woman working in her parent’s grocery store.  Almost from the beginning, she sees that a conservative path is the right way to prosperity.  But, she is in a world where the men run things and the women are sent away when politics are discussed.  She breaks this rule.

 

Thatcher realizes that the only way to change the system is to become a part of it.  She runs for Parliament.   As a part of the Conservative Party, she fights for a strong defense and smaller government.  She finds that as a member she cannot get as much done as she had hoped.  So, she decides to run for Prime Minister.

 

The story takes the audience through the turbulent years of Thatcher rule, her struggles with both the unions and the IRA.  We also get a taste of her iron resolve in the Falkland Islands conflict.  She is both admired and ridiculed but she never backs down on her principles.

 

The Iron Lady is a shoo-in for a Best Actress nod from Meryl Streep.  This performance is flawless.  We see all the diverse elements that make up Maggie Thatcher and watch her go from a confident, strong young woman to a more resolved older diplomat.  The arc of the life comes in peaks and valleys, showing both confidence and doubt during a lived existence.  The creative spark glows with Streep and this is another proof of how remarkable the acting process can be.

 

Seemingly overlooked by most press is the performance of Jim Broadbent.  As Denis Thatcher, he is the man behind the scenes and the soundboard for Maggie.  Theirs is a love story played out in the media and at No. 10 Downing Street.  He is the supportive husband and faithful partner.

 

The film is good but a little light on examining a life.  To put it in music terms, it is more of a greatest hits collection than deep LP cuts.  We see the entire highlights and lowlights of Margaret Thatcher but not the examination of what it all means.  It would have been a stronger film if it were just a bit longer and looked at the ramifications of the Conservative philosophy.

 

The Iron Lady is not the sum of its parts.  While the acting just jumps off the screen, the entire film feels a bit light.  It is two great performances lost in a not very well thought out piece of cinema.  It is worth a look just to see Meryl Streep in her element.

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