Published January 13, 2012
Margaret Thatcher sits in her quaint kitchen with her husband Denis. She serves him a hard boiled egg and together they lovingly bicker. The two look worn, years of public service taken a toll on the former British Prime Minister. Cut from a close up of Thatcher to see the full range of the kitchen. Now she is sitting alone and -- lost. She slowly comes to the realization Denis has been dead for years. Dementia has conquered the Iron Lady.
As Thatcher sits in denial, thinking she is speaking with her husband we too are watching something that isn’t – a good movie. Instead there is only a great performance by Meryl Streep. But Streep’s sensational portrayal of Margaret Thatcher masks the aimlessness of the “The Iron Lady.” The script and story are as scattershot as old Maggie’s memories. An incredibly weak screenplay is comprised of lengthy passages with Thatcher milling about or remembering trivial bits and pieces of her life -- like seeing "The King and I." The film has sparked some controversy by portraying the brash and bold Thatcher as a feeble, senile old woman.
“The Iron Lady” may not be a very good film, but Streep gives the performance of a lifetime. She disappears completely into the Margaret Thatcher persona and leaves absent any trace of an actor doing a job. The Oscar-winner alone saves “The Iron Lady” from being a dull, possibly insulting biopic. A less talented actor would make the film barely watchable.
The film covers snippets of Thatcher’s life, from her entrance into politics as a young conservative woman standing in the face of male adversity to fighting unions to the war in the Falklands to her modern day senility. There are countless moments of Thatcher’s life that could make a truly compelling story but the film is so flimsy and aimless and takes no pointed perspective that the whole shebang feels like a missed opportunity.
That said, the only entertainment lies in watching Streep. Everyone and everything in the film, apart from Streep, is inconsequential, which is a shame. It’s a pity Streep can't be picked up as Thatcher like a chess piece and placed down in a different, better film.