Movie Review: The Iron Lady (2012)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Drama
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Margaret Thatcher (Alexandra Roach, Meryl Streep) adored her father Alfred Roberts (Ian Glen) a shopkeeper and Conservative Party politician.  While other women were focused on marrying and having children, young Margaret went to Oxford University.  She got married all right, but she told her future husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent) that being a wife and mother wasn’t enough for her.  Indeed, she ran for a seat in the House of Commons before she was married and lost.  She finally won a seat in the Parliament in 1955.  She criticized Prime Minister Edward Heath (John Sessions) for his tax and spending policies while she was Heath’s Education Secretary.  Thatcher finally decided to run for Prime Minister, and won in 1979.  She slashed spending, incensing labor unions, launch the Falkland Island war, and eventually got England in solid fiscal condition.  After 12 tumultuous years in office, Thatcher resigned, facing life without her husband, and diminishing mental faculties.

There’s a distinction to be made between the acting in this movie and the movie itself.  The movie seemed like an excessively harsh telling of the life of Margaret Thatcher.  For example, in one scene Thatcher is seen driving away from her young children on her way to Parliament, while her kids scream after her “Mommy, please stop.”  The implication clearly is that Thatcher was not a good mother.  The whole tone of this movie was negative, an inordinate time was spent on Thatcher’s dementia, there were unending scenes of rioting in the streets during the recession in the early 80’s, scene after scene of IRA terrorism, and a sharp focus on the carnage and killing in the Falklands.  All of this and the filmmakers had one quick montage of Thatcher’s economic successes.  Even if you didn’t like Thatcher and didn’t agree with her policies what she accomplished in Britain in the 80’s was huge, being elected as a female in stodgy, old, patriarchal England.  That is a big deal, something that the US has not done, I might add.  At least give her a fair historical reading of her accomplishments.  This seemed like a cheap docudrama with a lot of sensationalism packed in.  The acting was superb, Meryl Streep transformed herself into Margaret Thatcher, her speech patterns, her accent, her mannerisms were all spot on, and something more, in those scenes where she is suffering dementia, the viewer can sense her anguish and utter terror, just by looking at her eyes.  Jim Broadbent is great, the perfect foil for Streep, they seem to be jousting, good naturedly of course like an old married couple.   The pairing adds a lot to the film.

The Iron Lady;  Has a lot of flaws to iron out.

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