By Lane Roberts
One of the 20th century’s most powerful and influential women, Margaret Thatcher, broke down the barriers of gender and class to become the first (and only) female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Iron Lady chronicles Thatcher’s life, from an ambitious young woman, to a fearless leader, and finally, to an old woman suffering from dementia.
Meryl Streep is flawless as Thatcher. Alexandra Roach is commendable in her first movie appearance as a young Thatcher, and Jim Broadbent is magnificent and lovable as Thatcher’s husband, Denis, but the otherwise featureless film squanders their performances.
Screenwriter Abi Morgan and director Phyllida Lloyd are the two women behind The Iron Lady and, thus, it is by their hands that the movie ultimately fails.
They seem indecisive about the picture they wish to paint of Thatcher, so she comes across as neither hero nor villain. Considering much of Britain still has strong feelings on Thatcher’s policies, it is curious that the film never chooses one stance over another and, ultimately, this lack of viewpoint leaves audiences unsure of how to feel about her.
The movie plays out as a series of montages and flashbacks, and even then, the film spends too much time focusing on Thatcher’s late-in-life mental problems rather than on her years spent as “The Iron Lady” in Parliament, which is presumably what the audience came to see.
The result is a portrait of a woman stubbornly devoted to her convictions that spends frustratingly little time fleshing them out.
It is also disappointing that the movie does not depict the effect of Thatcher’s policies on Britain and her lasting impact on the country’s political culture.
Despite the film’s numerous pitfalls, the stellar performances can elevate this mediocre movie—and this one is worth watching for Streep’s performance alone.