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The Iron Lady

A 2011 film directed by Phyllida Lloyd

< read all 7 reviews

The Streep Show

  • Jan 9, 2012


Written by Abi Morgan

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd

Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent and Alexandra Roach


Margaret Thatcher: It used to be about trying to do something. Now it’s about trying to be someone.


In 2009, Margaret Thatcher attended the unveiling of her own portrait as British Prime Minister, held at her former office, London’s 10 Downing Street. Phyllida Lloyd’s THE IRON LADY supposes it knows Thatcher’s frame of mind in the time leading up to this event. The presumption is that Thatcher’s later years are spent mostly in solitude, facing her own mortality and inevitable dementia, whiling away the hours looking back on her life. There is some element of truth to this portrayal (Thatcher’s daughter has mentioned memory loss in the press), but the question is not whether the device is appropriate or not. It isn’t even the doors that it opens that matter most. THE IRON LADY hinges on but one thing - who walks through those doors and how she walks through them.


Meryl Streep, not surprisingly, is THE IRON LADY. Her performance, as Thatcher both during her rise to power in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and during her later years, is so focused and so commanding that she seems at times to be carrying the entire film in a cart behind her with a rope over her shoulder. Not that there aren’t other standout elements of the film, the most notable of which being Jim Broadbent as her deceased husband who has come back to her life through the power of hallucination, but just that Streep’s caliber of talent is clearly in full force as this iconic political figure. It is as though the breadth in Streep’s performance somehow became entwined with Thatcher’s stature as a politician to form a cross-generational super power of feminine strength. Does Lloyd know what to do with this though?


Lloyd does spin the film a little too often in the all too obvious feminist direction unfortunately. Yes, Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister and yes, she had to fight her whole life to be taken seriously in the relentless boy’s club that is the British Parliament. When she likens her struggle as a woman to those of a soldier in battle though, I’m less inclined to take her as seriously as she deserves to be. Abi Morgan’s screenplay, which misses no opportunity to be dramatic, operating in stark contrast to the bare bones work she did on Steve McQueen’s SHAME, pits Thatcher more often against her male detractors and herself, than the very real political issues she faced during her 11 years in office, sometimes glossing over major events. While this may not make for a great biography in then end, it still makes for some fairly compelling drama. And not one moment of Streep’s performance should be missed.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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January 14, 2012
I was just telling @littlesam, that I need to make time to see this one. I have no idea why I didn't make it today....
January 14, 2012
Great write up. I just saw the movie today was once more amazed by Meryl Streep.
January 12, 2012
Man, I wanted to see this. I'm a huge Streep fan and I don't know as much as I'd like to about Thatcher. I may still check it out and I'll have to let you know what I thought. Great write-up, thanks for sharing!
January 11, 2012
Margaret Thatcher is a difficult character to play for any actress.
More The Iron Lady reviews
review by . April 18, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
A Quivering Bowl of Jello
Never saw this movie when it came to the big screen but saw it on the list for a cable channel last week so I thought I would watch it.  As Margaret Thatcher just died, I wondered if this movie would be a tribute to the one of the longer tenured PM's of Britain and the first female PM. Was I in for a shock!      The great actress, Meryl Streep, visually portrayed the lady well with the assistance of the superb make up artists and hair stylists and the sets were wonderful. …
review by . January 14, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I thought Viola Davis had the Oscar race all to herself and was guaranteed to win for her role in The Help, until I saw Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. Of course its expected for Streep to be amazing in any movie, but I did not think anyone would take the Oscar from Viola Davis this year. And I was wrong. Meryl's completed dominance of this film is beyond amazing. I sat spellbound watching her. I came home and read some of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and was surprised at the reaction to the film. …
review by . January 15, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
When I first heard about THE IRON LADY, I was eager to see the movie. I am a child of the 1980s and because of that I will always respect and admire Margaret Thatcher. As a kid, I remember seeing her on tv and listening to some of her speeches. I liked what I heard. She was the only current foreign leader I knew anything about until around fifth grade. As the first (and so far only) female Prime Minister of Great Britain, it wasn't until years later that I realized how extraordinary Thatcher's …
review by . April 12, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Streep is great
Meryl Streep stars in this bio pic of Margaret Thatcher as the elderly lady, suffering from dementia, remembers key moments of her past. We see young Margaret, a grocer’s daughter, in her first political campaign, when she meets her beloved husband (later played by Jim Broadbent), and her eleven years as Prime Minister with its struggles and triumphs; but mostly, we see her deteriorating health and increasing frailty.      I was absolutely stunned by Streep’s impersonation …
review by . December 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Mark my words: Meryl Streep’s work in The Iron Lady will earn her an Oscar nomination. But don’t make the mistake of believing it was preordained, stemming solely from the idea that it’s fashionable to nominate her. It will happen because, true to her chameleon-like ability to virtually disappear into any role, she truly does give one of the year’s best performances as Margaret Thatcher, who made history in 1979 by becoming …
Quick Tip by . May 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Again, I watched it on the plane. The Iron Lady the movie portrays the world of Margaret Thatcher after she was ousted by her party and her early rise to power. This is the first woman leader in the developed countries and her beliefs about what a man/woman can do for his/her country. She's both a legend and a legacy.
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #8
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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