Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Iron Lady (2012)

Director: Phyllidia Lloyd
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman

The Iron Lady is a look back on the former British Prime Minister's life.  This biopic starts out in present tense, and shows a frail and aged Thatcher displaying clear signs of Dementia. She appears confused, often thinking that her son still lives close by and her husband, Dennis (Jim Broadbent) is still alive. She is having hallucinations of her husband, even holding conversations with him. She watches current events on television and makes statements to the maid that they need to react to those she is still in office and her maid is another member of Parliament.  A scene that really sums up Thatcher's current health/state of mind is when her daughter, Carol (Olivia Colman) has to remind her that she is "No longer the Prime Minister, her son lives in South Africa, and Dad is dead." Thatcher seems confused at her daughter's statement, and quickly changes the conversation. The narrative of the rest of the film is a bounce between present time and her past. Her life story comes though a series of flashbacks; detailing her early life, marriage, children, and then on to political office.

Director Phyllidia Lloyd does a good job of painting a portrait of the former Prime Minister's early life; giving the audience an understanding of who she was, and how her early life lead to her being a conservative in her political life. But once the story goes in to her political life, the narrative starts to become rather bland and rushed through. A lot of important events that took place during Thatcher's time in office were skimmed over, especially the conflicts she had with the Irish Republican Army, and the INLA. There is a scene when a hotel that Thatcher and her husband were staying at was bombed, but then it just sort of fizzles out. In real life, five people were killed including a member of the British Parliament.  In real life, Thatcher was a strong ally to Ronald Regan and played a big part in the fall of the Berlin Wall, but that event was just skimmed over as well. The only event that the film paid any real attention to was the War in the Falkland Islands. 

Her years as Leader of the Opposition, as well as her years as Secretary of State for Education and Science were barley even covered, focusing instead on taking the story straight to her years as Prime Minister. I suppose that was ok, since the story is about "The Iron Lady" and I think that is what the director wanted to focus on.

If someone is going to do a biopic on someone's  life, then the question has to be... why? The director really needs to catch my attention and explain to me why this person's life was or is so important. The writer needs to tell the story under the assumption that no one has ever heard of this person prior to the story being told.  The Iron Lady painted a picture of a woman who was both revered and hated by her public, but was really vague as to the reasons why. This film never really went into great detail on any area of her life. The film also failed to show how her years in political office took a toll on her and her family in real life.

One thing that no one can argue against is Meryl Streep. She is THE greatest actor of her generation.  If Hollywood had a Royal Family- she would be the Queen, without a doubt. Her ability to sink into a role and actually become that person whom she is portraying is second to none. I'm not just talking about her ability to change her accent either. As I was watching this film, I could barely even see Streep- I was watching Margret Thatcher...not someone who was trying to act like her.

The Iron Lady is just "Ok" in my opinion; not superb, but not a total failure. Meryl Streep was the main reason why I wanted to see this film in the first place. Without her, who's to say if the film would have been worth watching or not.

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