Business rating: 1.5/5 (One-and-a-half stars)
Star cast: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Alexandra Roach, Harry Lloyd.
What’s Good: Meryl Streep’s wonderful performance as Margaret Thatcher.
What’s Bad: The narrative seems longer than the film’s actual running time.
Verdict: The Iron Lady will do average business in India, that too mainly due to Streep’s Oscar win.
Loo break: A couple.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for Meryl Streep’s wonderful performance.
Pathé, Film4, UK Film Council and PictureWorks’ The Iron Lady is about United Kingdom’s first and only woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.
An old Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) is staying alone at her London apartment, aided and guided in her day-to-day chores by her staff and her daughter, Carol (Olivia Colman), who visits her often. Even as Margaret longs for the company of her son, who is away in South Africa, she often talks to her long deceased husband, Denis Thatcher (Jim Broadbent). Also, as a result of her advanced age, she often forgets that she is no longer the Prime Minister of Britain.
When she is alone and sleepless, she remembers her earlier days as a lower-middle class, politically aware grocer’s young daughter (Alexandra Roach); her defeat in her life’s first election and the subsequent marriage proposal by Denis (Harry Lloyd), a young businessman; a holiday with her husband and six-year-old twins, Carol and Mark.
The audience is also shown, in flashbacks, the rise of Thatcher through the ranks of the Conservative party to become the Education Minister, then leader of the party, and finally, the Prime Minister. One gets a glimpse into the making of a female leader in a man’s world. She later comes to be known as the ‘Iron Lady’ for her unwavering stand on a host of issues. The film also depicts how she was loved and loathed in equal measure when she took Britain to war over the Falkland Islands issue and how she was forced to step down in haste.
The Iron Lady Review: Script Analysis
Abi Morgan’s screenplay, part fact and part fiction, treads an uncertain territory. The viewer is thrown off guard when he realises that the Margaret Thatcher he is seeing on screen is obviously suffering from dementia. In subsequent flashbacks, which appear sporadically, he learns of Margaret’s inspiring back story and begins to admire her. Yet, when the screenplay moves to the present, the viewer has no choice but to feel bad for the old and helpless lady who once commanded much power.
Portions of the drama, where a middle-aged Margaret is shown to be bossing over her colleagues, fighting with her husband, or giving speeches in Parliament are engaging and entertaining. A sequence where she lashes out at a cabinet colleague over drafting mistakes made by the latter, is a highlight.
However, the narrative loses steam every time there is a switch to the present when Thatcher is dealing with her dementia. Even as her hallucinations haunt her, she enjoys her conversations with the jolly Denis and adores him. But the audience is left wondering about what is really happening. Because of the vague nature of the story, the film seems rather stretched and longer than it actually is.
The Iron Lady Review: Star Performances
Meryl Streep is just too fabulous as Magaret Thatcher. At several points in the film, her performance brings tears to one’s eyes. She lives the role and makes the audience feel like they are watching the real person and not a performer. Jim Broadbent is at his bubbly best as Denis. Alexandra Roach (as the young Margaret) is a delight to watch. Harry Lloyd (as young Denis), Olivia Colman (as Carol), Iain Glen (as Margaret’s father), Roger Allam (as Gordon Reece), Richard E. Grant (as Michael Heseltine) and others support well.
The Iron Lady Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
Phyllida Lloyd’s direction is good but her narrative style is suited only for the discerning audience. Thomas Newman’s background score is fine. Cinematography, by Elliot Davis, is very good. Simon Elliott‘s production design is realistic. Marese Langan, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland’s make-up and hair styling are excellent. Editing, by Justine Wright, is sharp.
The Iron Lady Review: The Last Word
On the whole, The Iron Lady is a fare which will do average business in India, in no small measure due to the publicity it has got by Meryl Streep winning an Academy Award.
The Iron Lady releases in India on 2 March 2012.