on April 18, 2012
If I knew nothing about Margaret Thatcher I would not have learned anything of significance from this film except that old age can be a negative, lonely experience where you have constant, quick glimpses of segments in your life. Yes, this movie was like a bad dream and Margaret was old 90% of the time. Not even engagingly old, charming, wise or humorous. There was no positive to it. I give Meryl Streep a 10 for her taking this part in such an unremarkable movie, probably trying to save it and the director a -1 for not developing the character(s) at all. And who in the world wrote it??? I could get more from a book report. There were so many flash-backs and flash-forwards there was no time to make a commitment, judgment or emotional connection to the character, or anyone for that matter. I kept thinking from the beginning, "it's the directors fault, whoever directed this doesn't like Margaret Thatcher." It was one of those movies, you know the kind, where you can tell right away it isn't going to get better.
Even for a political film it was disappointing. Where are Margaret Thatchers rousing speeches that made the people of England rise up and vote for her? None were in this film. Snatches of her philosophy that "your life should count for something" was in the script but how she made a poignant difference is not, there is a void, again, her legacy is missing. Some of it is 'mentioned', but mentioning is a far cry from feeling her successes. The Trailer preview is an absolute lie! You think the movie will be about a great woman, the First Woman Prime Minister of England! It's going to be exciting, glorious and uplifting!!! That's the lie. The Hair-do in the Trailer, the Confident, In Control Margaret Thatcher?: she's not in this movie. You do get to see her hallucinatory old age thru the whole uneventful thing, with dead husband Dennis showing up constantly, but again, no warmth is felt although you can say intellectually he loved her. Big deal. I don't know about you but I watch movies to be moved in some way.
If you watch this movie all you'll feel is regret and that you should write a review to warn others. Dennis was a happily encouraging and playful sort, but again, too much, wearily too much of him so that he became an overbearing nuisance early on. The camera angles were strange and dizzying adding nothing to the bland, passionless scenes. Meryl Streep did not have even ONE instance to really shine and show her remarkable talent, not one time, that's how bad this script is. Because if anyone can pull off and save a bad scene it's Meryl, but there was nothing to work with. Most scenes are in seconds, so look fast... The ending was apropos; don't worry I'm not spoiling anything... she walks down her hall in her house for no apparent reason, we don't know why, we don't care by now, because the movie said nothing and lead up to even less.
on September 6, 2012
Streep gives her usual fine performance, although she sounds a bit like her rendition of Julia Childs. The real problem with this film is that it makes no attempt to teach us anything about Margaret Thatcher and how and why she came to be what she is. Instead the script dwells on ghosts, delusions, declining health, and what we are supposed to believe was an unreasonable, domineering drive. Unfortunately the film can be used to illustrate what we mean by a "Hollywood" version of a famous and influential person's life. Perhaps someday there will be an attempt to probe Mrs. Thatcher's life and the influences that made her who she became in a serious way, but this is not it.
When I think about this movie I am filled with a sense of inner conflict.
On the one hand I am highly impressed with Meryl Streep's performance, for which she has at long last and deservedly won her third Academy Award after a 30 year gap, and after being nominated for the Academy Award a record seventeen times.
Once every two years she is nominated for an Academy Award. Only Katharine Hepburn has more with four.
Other directors have made movies about our leading political figures. Often these movies are not flattering portraits. Oliver Stone made a satirical comedy about G W Bush, which I found highly entertaining, somewhat of a caricature. Michael Moore made a far more scathing movie Fahrenheit 911. Then we have Primary Colors where where John Travolta played a played a Presidential candidate much like president Clinton. Stone also directed Nixon, a somewhat sympathetic picture of a character many regarded as villainous. Even though these portratits were not flattering you could detect some love or least amusement for the subject.
Now with Iron Lady, we have a movie which defines its subject through the lens of disease, presumably Alzheimer's, although it never states the exact disease. The movie starts out promisingly enough with Thatcher, the grocers daughter, buying a bottle of milk, unrecognised and confused at a local grocery store.
Streep conveys every nuance of Thatcher extremely well. The actor truly becomes the character, capturing, the tone, the accent, the gestures, the body language impeccably.
What happens though, as you continue to watch, too much of the story is frittered away on depicting Thatcher as she is now, her disease, imaginary conversations with her long dead husband, living in the past, with occasional flashbacks, to the significant events of her political life, the romance with Denis, her rise to power, the various crises while she was in office, terrorist attacks, the Falklands War, the H Block protest, which escalated the tensions in Northern Irealnd, and so forth, and ultimately her fall from grace.
I found this focus on defining the character by her disease extremely annoying and tiresome, and a huge mistake by the screenwriters to spend almost 50% of the time focusing on the disease while while forwarding through the significant events. The Falklands war is compressed to about five minutes. The H Block protests last about thirty seconds.
I lived in the UK for the latter part of her leadership. Her insistence on an unpopular tax was the beginning of her downfall, and the cause of her being deposed as leader through the usual shenanigans. Here again we have very short treatment of what could have been great drama in favor of promoting the disease.
When this movie was released several months ago in Argentina, it reportedly escalated tensions in Argentina. A journalist in the Falklands made an unflattering comment about the current female president. There were threats of invasion, and death threats against the journalist. It appears that she knows how to work the situation. Thankfully, this movie did not start a war.
Iron Lady could have been a much better movie with a shift in focus away from the disease.
Recently, I listened to an interview Streep did on the (NPR Fresh Air program), shortly before the Oscars. It was fascinating to learn how she puts together a character, and how she captured all those aspects of Thatcher's voice and rhetoric, the vocal coaching Thatcher underwent to moderate the strident early vocal style. How Thatcher had enormous lung power. People would wait for a break in breath to interrupt, but she would just keep going, much to their frustration. It discussed Streep's entire career. It was extremely well researched. Catch it if you can.
I think most people will appreciate Streep's performance, but probably will not like the movie overall. I will not watch this movie again. I hope that future screenwriters and directors will have more sympathy and sensitivity for their subject than this.
If not for Streep's performance this would be a one star review. Her longtime hairstylist also won an Oscar for this movie.
Hope this was helpful.
on November 5, 2013
What a disappointment!! If you know anything about late 20th century, you would conclude that Maggie Thatcher was a towering figure in shaping the cold war history. Even a heroic figure to many who lived under Eastern Europe's communist dictatorship!
How can you call this movie as her 'biography'?
It is absolutely clear that this movie is made by someone who hates Ms Thatcher. The camera takes a joy, an utter delight in showing her suffering as an old, decrepit, confused person. THAT is what the movie wants to impress the viewers on! Whenever there is a brief segment about her triumph as a politician or as a powerful woman, the movie always, and IMMEDIATELY, goes back to Thatcher as an ill and lonely old pensioner! Even the cover photo of Thatcher looks very unflattering. Why didn't the movie makers use the picture of her as old pensioner staggering along a lonely, cold street as the cover? That would have been more representative of this movie!!!
In summary, new generation of young people may ask, 'Who is the 'Iron Lady'? Why is she call that?'. The movie quickly answers, 'Oh, she is nobody. She is an old, decrepit, demented pensioner who sometimes has these wild flashbacks of delusion about her past'.
And you call this a biopic? Just horrible. Absolutely horrible.
The fact that Meryl Streep took the main role in this movie tells me that she IS the deluded fool about the cold war history. I hope someone with less personal hatred in his or her heart can do some justice to the great life of Baroness Maggie Thatcher.
on January 16, 2012
Like some of the other reviewers, I, too, wanted and expected to see many highlights of Margaret Thatcher's life and career. There was very little of that. It seemed like 90% of the movie was spent showing her elderly state of dementia. Yes, Meryl Streep did a superb acting job, as always. But I walked out of the theatre wishing I had not wasted my money watching it. What a huge disappointment.
on May 31, 2012
Despite the talent of Meryl Streep and the many other performances which I have enjoyed by her, I was totally disapointed. This movie does not live up to the rave reviews received by many. I was also disappointed with the historical aspect of this film, where there appears to be great spans of Mrs. Thatcher's life omitted with way too much attention towards her decling years. The Devil Wears Prada still remains my favorite Streep movie.
"The Iron Lady" is, for want of a better term, simply the wrong movie.
Imagine this: You are making the first major film about Al Capone who, no matter what else, led a fascinating life until he died of syphillis. What would be your thrust?
If you said you'd devote the major emphasis of your film to an in-depth study of syphilis, this is the film for you.
Margaret Thatcher, whether you loved her or hated her, was easily one of the most fascinating human beings of the latter half of the 20th century.
She is, at this writing, in the final stages of Alzheimer's.
At some point in time, we might REALLY want to know about the effects of the disease on her and her family. It would certainly be interesting.
But first, shouldn't we be given the story of her life? Shouldn't THAT be the thrust of the first major film about her?
Yes, we see her "in action"; yes, we see some of the high points of her career... in brief.
But the main thrust of the film is her (sadly, losing) battle with the disease.
Add to that, the same flaccid directorial touch that Phyllida Lloyd brought to "Mamma Mia" (ABBA may be kitsch, but you have to work hard to make ABBA dull), and you have the makings of a very dreary movie with (yes, it's required to say) Meryl Streep's (usual) brilliant performance as its only saving grace.
The really sad thing is, this could have been one of the great bios.
All that was needed was to jack up Streep and put another script and director under her.
on January 16, 2012
Margaret Thatcher is one of the towering historical figures of the 20th Century. Despite humble origins, she rose to be the United Kingdom's first female prime minister, and the longest serving prime minister of the 20th century. She took the reins of power in London at a time when the British economy had been decimated by decades of extremist Labor Party policies (anyone remember when Britain nationalized just about every possible industry driving the British automotive and motorcycle industries into the ground?). Her policies brought the English economy from the depths of recession to dynamic growth. Arguably, she did as much as Ronald Reagan in leading the West to a bloodless victory in the Cold War. As a historical figure of such importance Margaret Thatcher deserves to be the subject of a great biographical film. The Iron Lady is not that film. In fact...Not only is The Iron Lady not a great movie, it's not even a particularly good movie.
The Iron Lady seems to be very poorly structured. Not having read the book on which it's based I can't tell if the fault lies with the writing, the directing, or the source material. Here were have a movie about one of the most important historical movies of the 20th Century and at least 40 minutes of the movie seems to concentrate on Thatcher the elderly woman in the grips of dementia. We get to see her buying milk, going to the doctor, and hallucinating that her husband Dennis Thatcher is still alive. We get to see her finally clean out his closet and send all his clothes to Goodwill (or the British equivalent). We get to see her daughter and staff worry about her and fuss over her. And this goes on and on.
Watching this movie was an exercise in patience. I wanted to see a biopic that told the story of Margaret Roberts, the daughter of a humble shopkeeper who rose to be the most powerful female leader in the world. I wanted to see how she developed her political philosophy. I wanted to see how she dealt with crisis. But all these parts of her life were no more than touched on, and only then in flashbacks. Alexandra Roach did a great job playing the young Margaret Roberts, a shopkeeper's daughter who got accepted to Oxford University. I wanted to see a lot more of her. But every time that (or any) part of the story seemed to be getting interesting the flashback ended and the audience is taken back to modern day to watch a senile old woman argue with her dead husband. At another point one of her close friend is murdered by an IRA bomb, but do we get to see how she deals with this? No. Immediately the flashback ends and we're back to watching a senile old woman again. Every important moment depicted in the movies is presented the same way, as a short flashback, and totally out of context, that ends just as it's about to get interesting.
The complete and utter failure of this movie may have a lot to do with the choice of Meryl Streep to play Thatcher. With such an A-list character actress as a leading lady, the director and writers structured the movie to highlight Streep's acting, not to highlight the life of the person Streep was portraying. That seems to be the only explanation for why we only got a see a couple moments of Alexandra Roach's wonderful portrayal of the young Margaret Roberts, and a tedious 40 plus minutes of Streep splaying a Thatcher as a senile old woman.
All in all, The Iron Lady is a disappointing mediocre movie that fails as a biopic and fails as historical fiction. If you go in expecting a movie anywhere near as good as The King's Speech, you will be sorely disappointed. Hopefully, someday, someone will make a great biopic about Margaret Thatcher.
on April 16, 2012
This movie is a travesty. I bought it unseen because Meryl Streep is one of my favorite actresses and I anticipated a great story about a great lady and one of the best Prime Ministers Britain has ever had. Instead what I got was an insult to the memory and history of this woman. The movie focuses far too much on her illness after she retired from government service, and very little on the substance and successes of her time in office. I'm sure Meryl Streep deserved her Oscar for her acting since she was very convincing as the Margaret Thatcher I remember in office, but she's not responsible for the content and the ridiculous way the movie kept jumping about from one time period to another. If you are buying this as a historical portrait of a fine leader, then give it a pass. If it's a diary of a fallen heroine suffering the misery of senile dementia you're looking for then enjoy!
on January 14, 2013
Meryl Streep was exquisite as an actress as usual, and the cinematography was quite enthralling. Sadly, that is all I can say positively about this movie.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a woman who fought through male chauvinism to become Britain's first woman Prime Minister and its longest serving one at that. She lived through World War II, survived an IRA bombing, kept Western Europe together during the Cold War, and grew UK's GDP by 23 percent (annualized) for ten years.
So, against this backdrop, the movie spent well over 75% of its time focusing on Lady Thatcher's mental decline??? Her achievements, her mastery (though sometimes clumsy) of British politics, her razor sharp wit and intellect were nothing more than thin bookends of her dementia in the movie.
Folks! When people get old, they develop ailments; some worse than others, but that is natural and normal... nothing to really write home about - what is worth raving about is her character: her strength, vision, values, tenacity, wit, intellect and quiet sense of pride. Yes, she is a flawed person who was a flawed Prime Minister but no more than any other.
So, I find this movie, well-made as it is, repulsive and deeply-insulting for de-emphasizing her achievements and over-emphasizing her mental decline. If not insulting to Lady Thatcher, it is to those of us who were alive during the 1980's and saw a world in turmoil (like we are once again now), and the Iron Lady was instrumental in the survival of Great Britain and most of Europe. We would be lucky to have another Margaret Thatcher as leader of the UK or here in the US.