"The Iron Lady"
Release Date: Jan. 13, 2012
Running Time: 105 minutes
I grew up in the London Borough of Barnet, and my Member of Parliament was none other than Margaret Thatcher before and during the years she served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I also remember feeling like I had met the Queen after I shook hands with Thatcher in 1979 when she was campaign trail. Thatcher is to the United Kingdom what Reagan is to the United States, and regardless of her equally divisive politics, she deserves a biography that tells her rise and fall as the U.K.’s first female Prime Minister in compelling and evenhanded fashion. So, like any Brit who lived through Thatcher’s reign, I was eagerly anticipating The Iron Lady. Sadly, not even Meryl Streep’s authoritative and spot-on portrayal of Thatcher can prevent The Iron Lady from making a mockery of Thatcher’s life. Then again, what else should I have expected from Phyllida Llloyd, the director of Streep’s cringe-inducing Mamma Mia! To begin with, this isn’t a biography. The script by Shame’s Abi Morgan shows no interest in Thatcher’s humble beginnings or how, like George W. Bush after her, united a country during a time of war only to lose her grip on power with her policies that lacked any compassionate for the working class. Instead, The Iron Lady is a work of pure speculation. It presents us with the Thatcher of today as she struggles with dementia. She spends her days and nights talking to her dead husband Denis, who is bumblingly played by a miscast Jim Broadbent. We know that time is not kind when you reach old age, and it’s only more pronounced that you happen to have once been one of the world’s most powerful people. Unfortunately, comparing and contrasting the two Thatchers doesn’t work and is unnecessary. The comparison can be naturally made when Thatcher resigns in disgrace after 11 years as Prime Minister. Perhaps if Lloyd and Morgan weren’t so caught in how they perceived Thatcher to be today they would have actually bothered to give a clearer understanding of the politics of the day, dug deeper into Thatcher’s policies, and presented certain events, such as the 1984 IRA assassination attempt on her life, in their correct chronological order. Instead, The Iron Lady is a muck-racking mess that shows little respect for its subject and wastes Streep’s Oscar-nominated performance. I certainly do not consider myself to be an admirer of Thatcher and her politics, but I believe she deserves better than The Iron Lady.
Aired: Jan. 12, 2012
Web site: http://weinsteinco.com/sites/iron-lady/