This film is dreadful.
If the trailer above was actually representative of the final product you would have had something worthy of the woman who ruled Great Britain with an iron will. However, the trailer is not the journey you take with Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in Iron Lady.
That the film actually disrespects and marginalizes a woman as large as Margaret Thatcher is movie making malpractice.
Peter Travers is his review long before the film broke, elevates the premise of it to “a kind of female spin on King Lear” and is seduced by this torturous view of Thatcher from the world of dementia.
But why anyone would take the subject of Margaret Thatcher and reduce the drama by putting the lens inside her brain as she declines into this state is beyond me, especially since the way it’s done dwarfs her life, which was of major significance.
Conservatives would be right in encouraging their readers, audiences and talk radio listeners to stay far away from this travesty. People like Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and others have the power to make an impact if they do.
It’s easy to understand why the filmmakers and producers would think people would jump to see Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher and I’m not surprised in the least she won the Golden Globe for her performance. Playing the role of Margaret Thatcher is an actor’s dream, but delivering a performance of someone of Thatcher’s stature in the throes of dementia is the ultimate test of the actor’s actual craft.
If you want to know the seriousness of the filmmakers, in Ms. Streep’s acceptance speech she said, We made this for 25 cents in 5 minutes. This says it all. Weinstein & company obviously had little to no respect for what the subject of Margaret Thatcher required and earned, but obviously didn’t care. Betting on Streep is never money ill spent.
However, it’s unfathomable that anyone could read the initial screenplay and decide to accept the premise, especially given the richness of the woman’s life that could have been mined to great dramatic impact and historic relevance.
Meryl Streep is truly at her best as the aging Thatcher, made possible through the wondrous makeup artistry of Marese Langan. It’s just too bad Streep is stuck in a film that offers no hope of her soaring, regardless of Streep’s herculean talents, which seem boxed in by the dryness of the vision. It’s hard not to pity poor Jim Broadbent, as her husband hallucination Denis Thatcher, who is reduced to a comic distraction and annoyance, though through no fault of his own.
Director Phyllida Lloyd, who also did Mama Mia with Streep, fumbles her way through the film with Abi Morgan’s screenplay not worthy of its subject or that actors’ performances. I’ll wait for any film directed by Lloyd to come to cable from now on.
Margaret Thatcher was a larger than life figure when she was in British politics, a historic leader, but when you consider her gender, not to mention her philosophy and leadership style and choices, her arrival on the world stage was important. What she did and the politics she employed were groundbreaking and horrifying, especially to a liberal like myself, her embrace of austerity and personal coldness to the plights of people worthy of dissection and depiction.
That this film comes in 2012, as economic austerity hits Europe, offers huge opportunities and Ms. Streep’s performance teases what might have been.
A controversial conservative giant, Margaret Thatcher seen through her decline and reminiscences is a legitimate choice, but the fact that the telling through this lens turns sour as you watch and leaves the viewer with only a paltry sense of who Mrs. Thatcher was in history is why this film not only falls flat, but is a cheap imitation to what is required when the subject is so large.
That Iron Lady needed to be sold through a trailer like the one above is simple. No matter how brilliant Streep’s performance, and it’s all that, a representative clip showing the majority of the film with Margaret Thatcher fighting dementia would have turned off audiences in droves and for very good reasons.
This piece has been updated upon Ms. Streep winning the Golden Globe.