THE IRON LADY

6 out of 10

Release Date: 6th January 2012

Director: Phyllida Lloyd: (Mamma Mia!)

Cast: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Iain Glen, Alexandra Roach, Harry Lloyd, Nicholas Farrell, Roger Allam, Julian Wadham, John Sessions, Amanda Root with Anthony Head and Richard E. Grant

Writer: Abi Morgan

Trailer: THE IRON LADY

iron_lady_ver7_xlgLa Streep is one of Hollywood’s most talented mimics. Here she nails former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher to the point of parody. I was reminded of 1980s comedians like Bobby Davro and Lenny Henry gurning for all their life’s worth doing impressions of her and there’s not that much of a line that’s been crossed here. With all this said The Iron Lady is a satisfying film. I have to admit that I groaned when I saw the trailer and as much as I love Meryl Streep (SUFFRAGETTE) in other films I thought The Iron Lady looked like a mistake.

The film is saved by a neat plot structure and winsome performances from a gigantic cast of familiar faces, including Olivia Colman (LONDON ROAD) with a silly false nose.  It starts off with the late Margaret Thatcher at the end of her life, living in her memories and sharing her conversations with the ghost of husband Denis (JIM BROADBENT – THE HARRY HILL MOVIE). She begins to reflect on her rise to power and her friendship then marriage to Denis. Events collide into one another as the flashbacks mount up in impressive fashion. Th enon-linear format serves the film well as there’s so much material to get through in all of the so-called ‘Iron Lady’s’ life. So many famous points are done justice like the miners’ strikes of the 1970s and 80s, ‘this lady’s not for turning’ speech, the Brighton Bombing, etc. All are underlined by a neat performance by Meryl Streep which, like I said earlier, could so easily have bordered on parody if the material and mounting of the wider film had been assembled carelessly. Similarly, the film about Princess Diana is an example of how badly a film of this type can turn out if soap operatics and cliche begin to overwhelm proceedings.

In the supporting cast familiar yet unflashy actors, usually associated with British television are given slight screen time but its ample enough for the majority of them to make a good impact on the film. Roger Allam (ENDEAVOUR) and Nicholas Farrell (DRIVING LESSONS) give good cameo action as supportive members of parliament. Later on Anthony Head (GHOST RIDER 2) and Richard E Grant (QUEEN AND COUNTRY) pop up in a few scenes as Michael Heseltine and Geoffrey Howe repsectively. Jim Broadbent has the best role since Another Year, giving pathos and depth to an otherwise thin role that could have been a disastrous misstep. Having Margaret Thatcher interact with the ghost of her dead husband is an extrodinarily brave choice of plot device given the usually straight-faced approach we’re accustomed to in political biopics.

The Iron Lady isn’t my type of film but I can appreciate that it’s been made with a lot of attention to detail by an immensely talented team.  Overall, it’s the type of film I’d never have bothered with five years ago but I’m glad I sampled something a little bit different and was rewarded with a thoughtful and well-told story. Whether you were a fan of Maggie in real-life is not really something this film goes into. It puts a very human face on an unknowable and unpopular famous and unique public figure for good or bad. You decide.

6 out of 10 – A bullet dodged, this could have been terrible but it’s largely a success down to some smart and subtle ideas behind the scenes to prop up some great and unfussy performances.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?

  • Meryl Streep: Ricki and The Flash, Suffragette, Into The Woods, The Homesman, August- Osage County, Hope Springs, It’s Complicated, The Fantastic Mr Fox (voice), Julia and Julia, Doubt, Mamma Mia!, Lions For Lambs, Rendition, The Devil Wears Prada, Lemony Snicket’s A Serious Of Unfortunate Events, The Manchurian Candidate, The Hours, AI – Artificial Intelligence (voice), Adaptation, Music Of The Heart, Dancing At Lughnasa, Before and After, The Bridges Of Madison County, The River Wild, The House Of The Spirits, Death Becomes Her, Postcards From The Edge, She-Devil, A Cry In The Dark, Ironweed, Out Of Africa, Silkwood, Plenty, Sophie’s Choice, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Manhattan, The Deer Hunter
  • Jim Broadbent: The Sense of An Ending, War & Peace (TV), The Lady In The Van, Brooklyn, Big Game, Get Santa, Paddington, Postman Pat (voice), The Harry Hill Movie, Closed CircuitLe Week-EndFilth, Cloud Atlas, Arthur Christmas (voice), Another Year, Harry Potter- part 8, Harry Potter- part 6, The Damned United, Young Victoria, Inkheart, Indiana Jones 4, Hot Fuzz, Chronicles Of Narnia- The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Bridget Jones 2, Vera Drake, Vanity Fair, Bright Young Things, Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Gangs Of New York, Iris, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones, Little Voice, Topsy Turvy, The Avengers, The Borrowers, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, The Secret Agent, Rough Magic, Richard III (1995), Princess Caraboo, Bullets Over Broadway, Widow’s Peak, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life Is Sweet, Erik The Viking, Vroom, Brazil
  • Olivia Colman: Consider Yourself, Peep Show (TV), The Lobster, London Road, Broadchurch (TV), Mr Sloane (TV), Locke (voice), Cuban Fury, I Give It a YearTyrannosaur, Le Donk & Scorsayzee, Hot Fuzz, Confetti, Green Wing (TV), Peep Show (TV)
  • Iain Glen: The Bad Education Movie, Game Of Thrones (TV), Resident Evil 3,  Harry Brown, Kingdom Of Heaven, Resident Evil 2, Tomb Raider, Beautiful Creatures, The Young Americans, Silent Scream, Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead, Mountains Of The Moons, Gorillas In The Mist
  • Alexandra Roach: Testament of Youth, Cuban Fury, One ChanceTrap For Cinderella, Private Peaceful, Utopia (TV)
  • Harry Lloyd: Narcopolis, The Theory of Everything, Game Of Thrones (TV), Robin Hood (TV)
  • Nicholas Farrell: Legend (2015), Summer In February, Driving Lessons, Charlotte Gray, Beautiful People, Hamlet (1996), Twelfth Night (1996), Othello (1995), In The Bleak Midwinter, Greystoke – The Legend Of Tarzan, Chariots Of FireNativity!
  • Roger Allam: The Lady In The VanA Royal Night Out, Mr Holmes, The Book Thief (narrator), Endeavour (TV), The Thick Of It (TV), The Woman In BlackThe Angel’s Share, Game Of Thrones (TV), Tamara Drewe, V Is For Vendetta, Speed Racer, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, A Cock and Bull Story
  • Julian Wadham: Queen & Country, The Riot Club, Cheerful Weather For The Wedding,  Now Is Good,  Outpost 2Outpost, War Horse, Wah-Wah, Dominion – Prequel To The Exorcist, Exorcist – The Beginning, Keep The Aspidistra Flying, The Secret Agent (1996), The English Patient, The Madness Of King George III,  Maurice
  • John Sessions: Alice In Wonderland 2, Legend (2015), Mr Holmes, Pudsey The Dog, FilthMade In Dagenham, Nativity!, The Good Shepherd, The Adventures Of Pinocchio, In The Bleak Midwinter, Princess Caraboo, The Pope Must Die, Henry V (1989), The Bounty
  • Amanda Root: The Black Prince, The Forsyte Saga (TV), Jane Eyre (1996), Persuasion,
  • Anthony Head: Despite The Falling Snow, Convenience, Percy Jackson 2, The Inbetweeners Movie, Merlin (TV), Ghost Rider 2, Sparkle, Little Britain (TV), Imagine Me and You, Fat Slags, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV), A Prayer For The Dying, Howard’s Way (TV)
  • Richard E. Grant: Game of Thrones (TV), Downton Abbey (TV), Queen & Country, Dom HemingwayAbout Time, Horrid Henry, CuckooHow To Stop Being a Loser, Love Hurts, Penelope, Garfield 2 (voice), Corpse Bride (voice), Wah-Wah (dir), Tooth, Bright Young Things, Gosford Park, The Little Vampire, The Match, Spice World, Food Of Love, Keep The Aspidistra Flying, The Serpent’s Kiss, Twelfth Night (1996), The Portrait of a Lady, Jack & Sarah, Pret-a-Porter, The Age Of Innocence, Dracula (1992), The Player, Hudson Hawk, LA Story, Henry & June, Mountains Of The Moon, Warlock, How To Get Ahead In Advertising, Hidden City, Withnail & I
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