The Iron Lady
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Margaret Thatcher Biopic Features Meryl Streep’s Oscar-Winning Performance
Over the course of her illustrious career, Meryl Streep has landed more Academy Award nominations (17 and counting) than any other thespian in history. Blessed not only with an enviable emotional range but a knack for feigning foreign accents and regional dialects, the versatile actress has repeatedly demonstrated an uncanny ability to disappear into whatever role she’s been asked to play.
Such is again the case with The Iron Lady, a comprehensive biopic about Margaret Thatcher, who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1979 to 1990. Meryl won this year’s Best Actress Academy Award for her spot-on impersonation of the imperious icon’s public persona, from the pursed lips to the steely demeanor to the haughty tone of voice.
She further rose to the challenge of a demanding assignment which also called for her to capture the character’s recent descent into dementia, a dotage which has ostensibly been marked by hallucinations and semi-lucid ramblings.
Unfortunately, Streep’s sterling performance here has been squandered in service of an overambitious screenplay which attempts to bite off more than it could possibly chew in less than two hours. As a result, the film fails to do justice to the touchstones in Thatcher’s life, tending to tease rather than address the material in depth.
Constructed as a series of flashbacks, the movie takes superficial looks at her coming of age during World War II, her college days at Oxford, her marriage to Denis Thatcher (Jim Broadbent), her children, her feminist consciousness, and her political career. The bulk of the film’s focus is devoted to her tempestuous tenure at Number 10 Downing Street, a period marked by both domestic and international unrest courtesy of the Irish Republican Army and a war in the Falkland Islands, respectively.
Overall, this empathetic portrait paints the Prime Minister as a headstrong conservative as dedicated to her family as to her country. But by bio’s end, we really haven’t learned much memorable about Maggie beyond her enduring love for the devoted husband who predeceased her.
A potentially-underwhelming production elevated singlehandedly by yet another Meryl Streep tour de force.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violent images and brief nudity.
Running time: 105 minutes
Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD combo pack Extras: The Making of The Iron Lady; Recreating the Young Margaret Thatcher; Battle in the House of Commons; Costume Design: Pearls and Power Suits; The Man behind the Woman; and more.