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film review: the iron lady

London calling. A British film about a king, dominated the box office over the Christmas holidays last year. This time it seems like that crown will be bestowed upon Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, a woman that truly lived up to her nickname, “The Iron Lady”.

Meryl Streep stars in this biopic about Britain’s longest serving PM. She truly embodies the role and expertly covers every layer of this enigma’s character. The approach and portrayal is spot-on, from the excellent hair and make-up to the nuances in Streep’s voice and her overall presentation, she’s so darned convincing. In fact, you could be fooled into believing that you’re watching history unfold because this is most definitely an Oscar-winning performance.

The viewer gets to see Thatcher as the whisky-swilling and pearl necklace-wearing, headstrong politician holding her own by overcoming setbacks like her class and gender. Then there’s the wide-eyed youth wanting to change the country and the resultant sadness at what she becomes – a dithering, elderly woman suffering from dementia and reduced to squabbling over the price of milk.

Rather than focus solely on her political activities, we get an intimate portrait of Thatcher, where director Phyllida Lloyd, attempts to tell the whole story. The old girl has a series of muddled flashbacks that remind us of the high and low points in her extraordinary life and career. Archival footage is used to compliment the retelling with newsreel footage of the strikes, poll tax riots and Falklands war proving effective.

Jim Broadbent’s role proves to be similar to the other supporting male actors (Anthony Head and Richard E. Grant) in that they all play second fiddle to Streep. Broadbent plays Denis, Thatcher’s husband and proves to be the reliable and affable charmer to the headstrong iron maiden. Despite this taking place in a “man’s world,” this film really is a one-woman show where the star ruminates on her past. And although we get to witness her positive points (perseverance, intelligence and drive) these are counterbalanced by her stubborn and opinionated nature and when coupled with bullying, this sets her up for the mightiest fall.

The Iron Lady is an interesting historical drama about an influential and controversial figure. It is a mostly authentic journey about a hard woman that left one indelible mark on the world. So whatever you political leanings may be, love her or hate her, you should find The Iron Lady a most compelling viewing.

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