Streep shines in B-grade biopic

2012-02-10 08:09

Film: The Iron Lady (Nu Metro)

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Featuring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent and Richard E Grant

Rating: 6/10

All the points for The Iron Lady go to the incomparable Meryl Streep and her supporting cast. Alas, they are let down by a wishy-washy script, making this a case of A-grade performances in a
B-grade movie.

The synopsis says the film is a biopic about Margaret Thatcher and focuses on what she sacrificed for power.

Surprise, surprise, because she’s a woman, the lens is rather irritatingly turned on her domestic situation.

Seldom do you see biographies or biopics of powerful men lamenting how they had to give up their home life to get ahead.

Oddly enough, the film is written and directed by a woman, yet the inherent sexism still pervades.

Scriptwriter Abi Morgan previously adapted Brick Lane for the screen, a brilliant portrayal of a woman overcoming her domestic situation.

Director Phyllida Lloyd was behind the camera of the sparkling Mamma Mia!, another film that celebrates an independent woman, also starring Streep.


The Iron Lady begins with a rather poignant and well-executed scene of an elderly Thatcher buying a pint of milk, then returning to her husband, Denis, to have breakfast. The only problem is that he’s not there. He’s dead.

What becomes a constant return to the mentally frail Thatcher is grating – especially when coupled with interesting slices of her life that are cut short by yet another return to her life after retirement.
 
Her fascinating rise to power from being a greengrocer’s daughter, how she went from political pariah to popular darling thanks to the Falklands War, and how she smashed not only gender barriers but class barriers are not fully explored.

She was not only Britain’s first female prime minister, she was the longest serving of the 20th century.

She was always a controversial leader – taking on the trade unions and, most damning for local audiences, opposing sanctions during apartheid.

She invited PW Botha to Britain in the mid-1980s.

All this, as well as the Falklands War, which has its 30th anniversary in April, is fodder for a truly magnificent biopic. Instead, the filmmakers chose to domesticate her remarkable story. What a disgrace!

Thatcher herself would be displeased with this portrayal, especially in light of her tribute to Denis in her book The Downing Street Years: “Being prime minister is a lonely job. In a sense, it ought to be; you cannot lead from the crowd. But with Denis there, I was never alone. What a man. What a husband. What a friend.”

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