Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Iron Lady (2011)

JohnnyTwoToes tells you why he loves the Iron Lady!

The Iron Lady refers to Margaret Thatcher, the first and only female prime minister of England. The Iron Lady references her unwavering and unwillingness to compromise on any issue she deemed to be vital to her nation and her nation’s security. It was the British press and her fellow members of the Parliament who affectionately gave her that title, whether you agreed with her or not. 

Meryl Streep plays Mrs. Thatcher and she gives probably the very best performance of her long career. That is saying something, too. The film opens as an elderly Mrs. Thatcher is buying milk from her local grocery. Nobody recognizes her as she pays and hustles back to her home. Meanwhile the Bobbies and Mrs. Thatcher's staff are discreetly searching for her. As she comes in the back door of her home she begins a dialogue with her husband, Denis who died in 2003 from cancer. She has yet to start cleaning out his closets and she still has yet to let go of the love of her life. Denis Thatcher is played by the terrific actor Jim Broadbent and Streep and he have wonderful chemistry together. I really believed that I was watching the lives of these two people unfold right before my eyes. 

This biographical film is told in a series of flashbacks that start with Margaret as a young girl working in her father's grocery store as he ran for mayor of her hometown. He raised her to be self reliant and to always fight for what she believes is right and just and to NEVER compromise. She starts as the first female member of Parliament and after feeling that her own conservative party was rather inefficient she decides to run for the leadership of her party. "I don't expect to win. I want to shake my party up", she tells Denis. Well, she won and then went on to become the first and only female prime minister of Great Britain, thanks to lots of support from her own party but, also from her dear friend, Airey Neave (who was later killed by a car bomb planted by the IRA). 

The Iron Lady was met with very lukewarm reviews, despite the raves for Streep's Oscar winning (best actress) performance. I was shocked, actually. This is a poignant and sadly heartfelt. It treats Margaret Thatcher with respect as a person, lady and a politician. Whether you agreed with her or not. She was and is a smart and crafty politician that knew when she was right. Yet, it delicately shows her relationship with Denis and her sometimes estranged children. Could she be mean and demanding? Yes, but director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia, 2008) and Abi Morgan's screenplay let Mrs. Thatcher's humanity come through the tough exterior from her time as a young girl through her courtship by Denis. It also helps to have another solid soundtrack score by Thomas Newman to accent the highs and lows of a person always under the gun with public scrutiny. 

The supporting cast including Anthony Head and Richard E Grant is standout as well as it documents all of the people that helped shape Margaret Thatcher into the Iron Lady she was. Now, Mrs. Thatcher has medical issues that prevent her from having many public appearances which is too bad. Love her or hate her, (I love her) she is a legendary tenacious figure despite her flaws and I felt nothing but compassion for Streep's perfect portrayal of her. 

If I had one complaint it was that the film is only one hour and forty-four minutes. I would have liked to have learned more about Mrs. Thatcher's dealing with parliament on both sides but the film only lightly touches on that. But having said that, this film deserved a better reception than it received so I will try to make up for it. I highly recommend The Iron Lady. The Iron Lady-***1/2 out of 4


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...