Prior to watching ‘The Iron Lady’ I had only heard negative comments about our first and only female Prime Minister. So I walked into the film, not entirely sure what to expect. My main incentive to see the film was Meryl Streep starring as Margaret Thatcher in this incredibly intimate insight to the Baroness’ memories and life after Downing Street.
The biopic is formed around Thatcher’s faded memories and visions of her husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent) who died 8 years previously. Even those who aren’t fascinated by political intrigue could enjoy this fantastically directed film. Phyllida Lloyd has followed up her last collaboration with Streep, the upbeat musical ‘Mamma Mia!’ with this far more serious exploration of life as a woman in politics.
Margaret or ‘Maggie’ as she was affectionately known is depicted as a delicate, frail old woman who has popped to a local convenience store to by some milk for Dennis. She is shocked when the cashier requests the 49 pence to pay for the carton, and states it is over priced.
I was astonished by Meryl Streep’s performance. She successfully played the Baroness from her early thirties all the way into her eighties with an uncanny resemblance to Thatcher (after an extensive physical makeover, including altering her teeth with the use of prosthetics) and a flawless British accent. An unnecessary reminder of what an incredible actress the ‘Devil Wears Prada’ star really is.
The film looks at how, the now elderly, Thatcher has been coping since the death of her husband. Despite 8 years having passed since his death and after much persuasion from her daughter Carol (Olivia Colman) she has only just got started removing his clothes from her cluttered cupboards. Battling senility, Thatcher has difficulties coming to terms with her loss, seeing visions of Dennis everywhere.
Our first look back into the her past comes about as she accidentally signs her memoirs ‘Margaret Roberts’, her maiden name. We see a young Thatcher (portrayed by a convincing Alexandra Roach) standing her ground as she climbs the political ladder. We see that she stood out in the male dominated House of Commons in her signiture sky blue suit. An inspiring feat for feminists everywhere.
With each flashback we look at significant moments in the former Prime Minister’s life, such as Thatcher’s steely response to the argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands, the Brighton bombing (a near death experience for Maggie and Dennis ) and the miners’ strike. Although the film does not really cover these issues in discursive depth, it certainly sparks interest in these important moments.
To summarise, I would say the actors all gave astounding performances, the cinematography was superb and they handled a controversial character in British History in an incredibly sensitive and empathetic manner. I would definitely recommend this to Maggie’s fans and all the film lovers out there but those of a left wing political persuasion may be disappointed.