Cinema Review: The Iron Lady

The lady's not for gurning

DIR: Phyllida Lloyd • WRI: Abi Morgan • PRO: Damian Jones, Anita Overland, Colleen Woodcock • DOP: Elliot Davis • ED: Justine Wright • DES: Simon Elliott • CAST: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant, Olivia Colman

A wikipedia-style synopsis about the life of Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady doesn’t do much more than showcase Meryl Streep’s incredible acting in a slightly too warm-and-fuzzy character study.

The film opens with an elderly and confused Margaret, being looked after by her daughter, Carol (Olivia Colman), all the while having hallucinations of her late husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) prancing around the house. These modern day events are integrated with chronological flashbacks of her life, such as meeting her partner, raising her family, the Falklands War, the death of her colleagues in IRA bombings, all the way up until she was ousted from government.

As a premise for a film it was certainly a worthy one, however Thatcher’s career and life story is just too eventful to be crammed in to 105 minutes. The plot is simply made up of the bullet points of her life, punctuated with imagined insights. In fact no important political events are told in the detail they warrant –especially those closer to home.

The choice to have her talking to Denis as a plot device wears quite thin, especially as the film reaches it’s contrived ending. Meanwhile there’s a host of excellent, underutilised actors who only feature fleetingly, though their characters are so integral to Margaret’s political history.

From the brass-balled bully to an aged, forgetful grandmother, there’s an undeniable sense of humanity in the portrayal of Thatcher’s deteriorating mental health. This allows for some beautifully tender moments between Margaret and Carol, in which Olivia Colman really proves she is capable of a lot more than hilarious P.O.V. comedies.

The Iron Lady works well enough as a film, however Meryl works her subtextual magic, weaving it into something Oscar®-worthy, and once again proving to the world that she’s a world leader in her own craft.

Gemma Creagh

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)

The Iron Lady is released on 6th January 201

The Iron Lady – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDiCFY2zsfc

 

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