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The Iron Lady

by

Jeff Nelson

For those interested in the story of Margaret Thatcher, be prepared to be disappointed with what you'll see here.

The Iron Lady
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When I first heard about The Iron Lady being released, I was certain that this would be Oscar bait. I didn't even know very much about the movie itself. However, it has the marvelous Meryl Streep in it. The Academy seems to award nearly any movie she's in, even if the quality of the movie itself isn't good, although Streep is always able to shine bright in every performance. Once you hear the story, you'll understand that The Iron Lady is clearly for older audiences and the Academy. Outside of that, this doesn't have very large of a target audience. I suppose that's why this picture wasn't released in many theaters and didn't receive very much money. This is primarily because the screenplay and crew have some very serious faults, although the performances are excellent. Where does this leave The Iron Lady.

Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minster of Britain, whose political career and determination changed the rules that had limited women's opportunities for leadership. After hearing so much about Margaret Thatcher over the years, I was very interested to learn more about the first female prime minister. Those who are looking for the same type of plot won't find that here. The screenplay constantly switches between a senile and hallucinatory Thatcher, as she sees her dead husband, to flashing back to the past. There isn't very much about Thatcher while she was prime minister. Most of the movie is stolen by unnecessary drama as she's an old, crazy lady. I didn't find this portion of the story to be interesting at all. As the feature flashes back to her before she was the role of power, to gaining the role, to holding it, the movie is a little bit more interesting. Even then, these flashbacks are short and not nearly as interesting as it could have been. This screenplay is surely a mess. The movie is a bit long for what it's trying to accomplish here, which is try convey a lot of unnecessary drama. This movie doesn't even scratch the surface of who Margaret Thatcher really was. If the screenwriter wanted to simply write a drama, why not write a story made up? If a story of a true person is going to be displayed, why not go into the character? The narrative falls flat on its face with surprisingly one-dimensional character and no hook to keep the audience compelled to desire to watch more.

The strongest asset The Iron Lady has is the acting department. The brilliant Meryl Streep performs as Margaret Thatcher. She most certainly deserved the Oscar-nomination, although I wouldn't say that this is the strongest female performance of the year. Streep still manages to deliver a perfect accent and handle this role with a lot of class. Despite the fact that she's wonderful as Thatcher, Director Phyllida Lloyd has some issues handling her. Streep most certainly surpasses her talents. Streep's array of skills are excellent, but are a bit all over the place due to a director unable to utilize her to her full potential. If this film had more to do with Margaret Thatcher with a better director, this could have been an even better performance. She would truly make the character come to life. Jim Broadbent is Thatcher's dead husband, Denis, who she continues to see as an old woman. He does a fine job in the character. While there are some other supporting roles, they receive such a small amount of screen time that it doesn't really matter to bring up the actors playing them.

Other than the Oscar win for Best Actress, the film scored another Academy Award-win for Best Achievement in Makeup. I don't agree with this Oscar-win due to the films that it was up against, although the makeup utilized during the scenes where Thatcher is an old woman. The makeup used on Meryl Streep is fantastic. However, I don't think that only old-age makeup should win an Academy Award when there are other movies nominated that succeed in this department with so much more involvement. Despite the fact that Phyllida Lloyd had some difficulties with using Streep, her visual eye is great. Between using a steady-cam to some handheld work, she handles the camera very well. As expected, the track isn't very aggressive. The dialogue is never difficult to understand, although there is some sound coming from the surround speakers.The audio coming from those speakers is primarily ambience, such as music and whatnot. This is a focused track that pulls off what is desired of it.

For those interested in the story of Margaret Thatcher, be prepared to be disappointed with what you'll see here. Instead of focusing upon her early-life, rise to power, and being the first female prime minister, audiences see more of her as a senile old woman. I don't see how this is anywhere near as interesting as her life as the prime minister. I believe that this was done in order to create more unneeded drama and deliver what the Academy generally looks for. Instead of exploring the character, there's just a lot of generic crap. However, Meryl Streep is absolutely phenomenal as Thatcher and surely deserved the nomination. The visuals are strong, as well. I without a doubt believe that cinema needs a strong telling of Thatcher's tale, as I would certainly be interested in watching such a narrative. The Iron Lady drags for the majority of the feature, as the only thing that makes this movie even watchable is Meryl Streep.

My Rating = Two Stars

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