Film Review: THE IRON LADY
Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher how can one resist?
That will be the only reason the new movie “The Iron Lady” will make any bucks – die hard Meryl devotees and those curious to see how Britain’s ex-Prime Minister’s life is portrayed on screen (they will be the most disappointed).
Meryl has re-teamed with her “Mamma Mia” director Phyllida Lloyd and like their previous collaboration this film is just as clunky and misconceived.
The film opens with an elderly and semi-senile Thatcher attempting to pack up the belongings of her dear departed husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent acting like he has stepped off a Mike Leigh set). It has been 8 years since his death and Margaret still can’t let go of his presence, haunted by his ‘ghost’ she recalls her past glories. Unfortunately too much time is dedicated to these senile moments and not enough time telling the story I wanted to see – the rise and eventual fall of Britain’s first female Prime Minister and her cold hearted no compromise choices that changed a nation and indeed the world! We see these fleeting moments through newsreel footage and the occasional Parliamentary sittings and internal meetings full of buffoons – well that is how they are portrayed here.. It is hard to tell whether we are meant to take all of this seriously, sometimes it felt like I was watching a skit from a French & Saunders episode (Streep made up playing older reminded me of one of those old ladies going on about fuss and nonsense – see clip below). The film is full of strange stylistic choices, odd camera movements and choppy editing, one is not sure what the overall tone of the film is. There are a few good scenes that work – a trip to her doctor in which she rants about her preference for ideas over feelings, and the scenes with her daughter Carol (Olivia Colman) are equally funny and moving, and some that don’t work but should – a powerful moment in which she humiliates her foreign secretary is ruined by style and editing choices. Streep is wonderful of course, at times burying herself so deep into her impersonation of Thatcher that you do forget it is her. Jim Broadbent is wasted and gives a performance we have all seen before. The rest of the support cast hardly register aside from newcomer Alexandra Roach who portrays Thatcher as a young girl with the right amount of pluck.
Aside from Streep’s transformative hair and make-up other technical aspects are so-so, Thomas Newman’s score is jarring and overpowering at times and it looks like it was made on a tight budget.
Please Meryl can you next choose a film project that is worthy of your formidable talent, this film sure isn’t.
The Iron Lady opens in cinemas across Australia on Dec 26.