The Iron Lady
An ambitious sequel to animated sci-fi flick The Iron Giant? No. A companion piece to comic book adventure Iron Man? No. The equally far-fetched tale of how a female life form invaded the corridors of power and ended up running the UK.
Yes, whatever your political alliance, the name Margaret Thatcher will undoubtedly stir up deep feelings for anyone who lived through her reign of terror from May 1979 all the way through to November 1990.
Played incredibly here by Meryl Streep – who must surely by up for serious award nominations for this role – the film depicts the titular ferrous female in her confused and unstable elderly years as she struggles to come to terms with the loss of her husband Denis (Jim Broadbent), with whom she still talks even though he’s no more than a figment of her imagination.
This gives the filmmakers the plot device to run through a highlight reel of Thatcher’s ‘greatest hits’ – jumping between the high profile elements of her time in power including the miners strike, the Falklands conflict and the poll tax riots.
The most interesting areas are the quick dip into the early years of how young Margaret managed to blast her way through the many barriers of gender and class to make her way into the male-dominated world.
The film is also touching in the love story of her and Denis and the price she had to pay for her single minded pursuit of power.
Unfortunately, the overall film is lumpy, schmaltzy and liable to test your viewing endurance even with Streep’s powerhouse performance.
Yes, Thatcher is and was an extraordinary and complex woman but The Iron Lady leads viewers very firmly – and mostly with excess sympathy – through her career.
Supporting cast members such as Olivia Colman, who plays Maggie’s daughter Carol, do well with their limited screen time and the special effects that bring about the aging process as scarily effective, though there are not many people who want to spend cash to stare at strange wrinkled synthetic elderly make up effects for almost two hours.
The Iron Lady really might be Streep’s finest-ever performance, but it unfortunately just isn’t enough to make up for the pedestrian production and propaganda-ish spoon-feeding of very selected highlights.
Tory boys and their ladies may lap up the blue rinse flashbacks but fans of quality films however are likely to be unconvinced by this docile effort.