- Meryl Streep stars as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Submitted photo.
Meryl Streep plays former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and she's terrific. The look in her eyes, the timber of her voice, her gait, etc. I kept waiting for the film to become as exceptional as its star, but The Iron Lady (showtimes) remains a mostly standard-issue bio-pic.
Nevermind the politics, the Thatcher we see here was a fascinating individual. She believed that contemporary society was suffering from focusing on individuals and emotions rather than ideas. She gets off some crisp quotes on the subject, which I'll leave you to hear for yourself.
The film hops back and forth in time, telling Thatcher's life story along the way. But it's starting point, and home base throughout the story, is with Thatcher in her elderly days. Fragile and sometimes unfocused, she has frequent exchanges with the ghost of her beloved husband Denis (Jim Broadbent). Thatcher is tended to by cheerful professionals, and her daughter Carol (Olivia Colman) drops by often (Carol's twin brother Mark is away in South Africa), but she is lonely and increasingly frail and...
And what would Prime Minister Thatcher think of those genuinely touching scenes? What would the tough, shrewd leader think of a film that tries to make a highly controversial subject more sympathetic by first presenting her as determined, but frail and fading? I suspect she would cry foul, asking why the writer and filmmaker opted to present her through a haze of emotion instead of focusing on ideas. I'm glad I saw The Iron Lady because of the remarkable Streep, along with the performances of several other cast members. What a shame the surrounding film is so ordinary.