Reviews of The Iron Lady
Displaying all 7 reviews
I recently watched a documentary called Miss Representation, about the media’s blatantly shallow and sexist portrayal of women on Television, in advertising, and in film. It talked for a good amount of time about how women role models in the government are few and far between, and that women should stop seeing the government as a plethora of middle-aged or elderly white men in suits and challenge their positions. Margaret Thatcher definitely gave others a run for their money, and if women are seeking a daring figure with a strong, yet flawed, dream for society then she is definitely the right person to look into. The Iron Lady not so much. One of those hour long documentaries on cable should do better justice.
The Iron Lady is a stroll through biopic dead-ends as it meanders from marginally entertaining, to redundant and groggy in its second and third act. There is certainly enough substance and knowledge of Thatcher’s life to make an interesting and factual film, but the one we are presented with relies too much on a somewhat directionless and quickly paced storyline, a shaky narrative, and a well-developed character turned senile caricature.
Maybe it’s the fact I’ve been watching a barrage of Scorsese films that have focused on stories where characters rise to power, enjoy the top for a good amount of their life, before taking a water-slide down to seclusion, decimation, or minimal self-worth. The film is told with Thatcher, played wonderfully by Meryl Streep, suffering through dementia, flashing back to her humble beginnings and political life before eventually being stuck in the timeless trance she is currently in. Her husband Denis (Broadbent) is there, by her side, throughout his entire life, and still pops up after his death to accompany Thatcher when she is lonely. This provides for a very awkward, sort of fictionalized account of Thatcher’s life. The great thing about Scorsese is that he never strayed from plausibility or drifted into his own personal thoughts about his subject. He was concerned with choosing a character and documenting them on film.
I’m not saying the choice to include Thatcher’s husband as an afterlife figure was a bad idea, but it’s not a very necessary one. The abundance of flashbacks make the film feel rather distracted and drab as well. We see her working at a grocery store at a young age, admiring her father for his political speeches, and accepting a spot at the University of Oxford.
After that, the film seems to gloss over major points in Thatcher’s life that could’ve resulted in immensely intriguing scenarios such as The Falklands War, the true struggle that must’ve plagued Thatcher as being the only woman on the House of Commons, and her motivation and persistency behind all of her accomplishments and choices. For a biopic, it occupies a very cherry-picked timeline on events, none of them explored to their potential.
I mentioned the film felt distracted and drab. This is because the film seems to have spent too much time setting its sights on smaller, more intricate aspects than it did the writing and the exploration of events. The sets are marvelously crafted and Streep’s performance proves that she can take any role and almost become the person she’s trying to be. When she speaks, and she does quite a bit of it, she captures you and leaves you feeling entranced. It only devastates me that in many shots she has to play an empty codger instead of projecting the courage of Thatcher as a whole. As far as my view on Thatcher, I believe she was, as a whole, brave and admirable. Maybe her actions were a bit destructive and the fact that she divided Great Britain was a mistake. But the fact that she was a woman, trying to implement and develop controversial policies that angered the people, put up with marriage at a young age, and nonetheless joined the House of Commons, putting numerous males in their place definitely makes her a commendable and inspiring figure. Not to mention, she did speak one of the greatest quotes about socialism of all time.
The Iron Lady is a disappointment, motivated by Streep’s wonderful portrayal of a controversial figure and with makeup and art direction to laud. A film can’t thrive on those two aspects alone. The storyline is lacking coherency, the writing very unfocused, and the idea of making Thatcher out to be this delusional woman for much of the movie doesn’t seem like the most intelligent idea. The heart is here, but the mind isn’t.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Anthony Head, Richard E Grant, and Olivia Colman. Directed by: Phyllida Lord.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.
Quel dommage que ce portrait de femme en oublie son époque, fasse des raccourcis si rapides, escamotent les grandes décisions politiques de Tatcher et leur impopularité… pour ne retenir que la servitude héroïque d’une femme face à tous. Sans être une ode au Tatcherisme, La Dame de fer demeure une bleuette sentimentale pour nous présenter quelqu’un qui ne l’était pas vraiment. Heureusement qu’il y a cette vieille femme perdue au milieu de ses fantôme, ce personnage déchu, dont ni la froideur, ni la rigueur ne lui ont permis de tout maîtriser, pour la rendre assez peu sympathique. Mais ce n’est pas suffisamment. Cela aurait été un magnifique film s’il avait été à charge. On en est bien loin.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.
When it was announced that Meryl Streep would be playing the part of Maggie Thatcher and the first trailers hit the cinemas, every filmfan around the world was buzzing with excitment and rightfully so as it turns out. Streep’s performance is magical and shows her amazing skill in her chosen craft. Her performance alone makes this film worth watching. That, plus the great support by the ever-great Jim Broadbent.
The film in itself does not dare to trod away from the common ground, broken in by Hollywood Bio-Pics in the last few decades. The structure of the whole film is so obvious and pre-determined that you can always tell what happens next. Established the background and motivation of the whole character in 2 minutes ? Check. Show the reservation of all men to let her into the world of politics apart from her loving husband ? Check. Her struggle to get into the conservative party ? Check. The list goes on and just like a TV series, the film is a linear assemly of problems that the prime minister overcomes time and time again by means of her iron (!) determination and belief in doing the right thing.
I think it is couragoues to show the former prime minister in such a state of deteroiated mental health, then again, it makes the film much more engaging but also blurs the line between our evaluation of her role as prime minister and Margaret the mother, wife and ultiamtely human being. Many people have complained about this approah, but I found it refreshing and it is the paradox of the human condition that we will frequently learn of people with whom we disagree on a political level but can relate to on a human level.
Due to the sensationalist nature of the film, it could not be helped that Maggie comes across as a thoroughly positive protagonist in the film, overcoming obstacles, standing her ground, being a woman in the lion’s den etc. and while it may work as a narrative (although it makes the film quite cheesy in parts), it is also a dangerous thing to take all the ‘facts’ as face value as the film is pretty inaccurate in parts as far as the historic context(s) are concerned.
Still, as a film depicting the life of Mrs. Thatcher, it does work and I cannot see how it could have been done any better. Whether it is possible to make a film about a person like her that is both entertaining, accurate and preferably opinionated is another question but for now, I am quite happy with the result.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
With its sympathetic look at one of Britain’s most controversial political leaders, it’s a red flag to the liberal bulls of the country, not helped by the fact it’s released in an era of the Conservatives back in Parliament and the current Prime Minster angering Argentina for his comments on the Falklands. But it would be dubious to ‘slag off’ the film for being potential right-wing cinema, the dumbing down of the politics behind cinema to black and white just as mindless as times as the jingoism the film could be accused of. Also it doesn’t explain why films like The Birth of A Nation are celebrated despite being legitimately suspect in their politics; The Iron Lady should not be compared to that film, but the example is perfect at showing how dismissal for films like this are redundant when far more controversial movies may slip by unnoticed. Interestingly, just by looking online, the controversy is more for the portrayal of Thatcher with dementia from the Conservative Party itself, either showing a surprising lack of life in liberals or that they’ve decided to ignore it.
What the film is a praisable attempt to try and understand the individual, which its portrayal of an aged Thatcher, with a surprising supernatural tone, does well. Yes, its whimsical nature is questionable, both against the moments of darkness (images of riots and the IRA bombing of Brighton hotel) and the amount of events and individuals it skims past such as Ronald Regan, but from the director of Mamma Mia!, it was clear she wanted to avoid to more dour biopic it could have been. The sad part about this is that, while the film is good, it will be forgotten immediately as a few years pass. Also in just seeing her performance in just one film, it questions the concept of Meryl Streep as the ‘greatest’ actress in existence, which is also sad because her performance is great and is the biggest reason the film has virtues to it. That problem should probably be laid at the feet at the Academy Awards. That Streep joked about the amount of people rolling their eyes when she won the Oscar in her acceptance speech, while carefree, should be taken as advice for the Academy to think outside the box. Either that or I need to watch more of her performances and be proven wrong. – 6/10
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
Title: The Iron Lady
Country: UK, France
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Writer: Abi Morgan
Richard E. Grant
An impeccable mimicry equals the paramount achievement of acting? I often doubt this proposition, for this film, my almost-zero background information allows me to perceive Margaret Thatcher as a total outsider and I would be conveyed by the film (chiefly Meryl Streep’s performance) to get to know the legendary lady without a prejudiced first expression (which is a nearly impenetrable task for a human being and I tried my best).
One magnificent spectacle was the entire room was fully-packed in the multiplex I attended, the first time ever after AVATAR (2009) for me. So the post-Oscar phenomenon again instantly shows its impact on moviegoers, an elderly-skewed one at least.
The film is not quite qualified to be called captivating, all the segmental paragraphs are too brief to take on the conceptual process of outlining a concrete personage which lives up to audience’s demand, however since personally I have no higher expectation, and I hold no grudge over its two Oscar wins, both well-deserving, considering Meryl’s undeniable flair, a complete submission to her relentless grit of exploring her acting facility, a third Oscar is no big fuss, and more will arrive. The make-up win is also a decent triumph, the senior phase of Ms. Thatcher is rather delicately portrayed. The supporting cast, Jim Broadbent’s ghostly resurgence sparks the most amount of laughters and a largely underrated Olivia Colman delivers the most heartfelt moment of the film while playing off Ms. Streep.
Surely, it is an actor-designed project and its predominant objective is to earn Ms. Streep a well-belated third Oscar (THE QUEEN 2006, an 8/10, is a different case here). Director Phyllida Lloyd (whose director debut is the astronomically successful MAMMA MIA! 2008 with Meryl, a 6/10), has taken all the blame for a mix bag of ambiguity of the film’s stance, lame editing and over-sentimentalism, however, and it did its job and even becomes a profitable investment, let’s give a break for women directors and over-60-year-old actresses, it is such a miracle they can haul a hard sell film to the shore with fruitful sales.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Don’t stop the presses: “Meryl Streep nominated for Oscar!”
You can look it up. Hollywood’s most famous female impersonator has garnered a record 17 Academy Award acting nominations, bringing home the gold once for Best Actress. The movies’ big-name answer to Rich Little, Streep is again favored to win for her flashy but tin-plated performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
The Vassar-educated empress has no new clothes, but don’t tell that to British Film Academy voters, who—hear, hear—bowed down before Streep and crowned her with their own best actress award. The only way to keep Streep from winning another Oscar might be to cast her in the Tower of London….
(Deeper Into Movies full review now playing at linktext and on Facebook.)
The more I think about it, the more I dislike it…
Although I thoroughly dislike her politics and her legacy, I had prepared myself for a reasonably even-handed, yet necessarily somewhat-dramatised, document of her decade in power.
The movie fails on so many counts.
Everything is framed through the recollections of a Thatcher depicted as suffering from severe symptoms of dementia.
Aside from this hopelessly detracting from the central story of her years in power, and the story of her rise to that position, whatever you may think of Thatcher, it’s distasteful and unfair to depict a fictionalised version of the decline of anyone’s mental health in pseudo-documentary form, particularly while the subject is still alive.
The film also totally fails to depict the social context of Thatcher’s rule. We’re afforded the misery of Thatcher’s decline in old age well after her prime ministership, but not the situation of any affected by her policies during her government.
Yes, Streep is a masterful mimic and one of the great actors of her generation. But that alone is not enough to save this film from failing to deliver on a premise of such promise.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.