Margaret Thatcher. Without viewing this film, you might not know who she is. Her name is not extraordinary, but after one sees the Iron Lady, starring the wondrous Meryl Streep, she resonates deeply in your mind, and ultimately, in one’s heart, without dragging weary sentimentality along.
Margaret Thatcher is the focus of the Iron Lady, the nickname of the United Kingdom’s first and only woman Prime Minister. Director Phyllida Lloyd introduces us to Thatcher by showing her humble beginnings, where she is the daughter of a grocer/local politician, and we see Thatcher’s struggle for equality in politics very early. She attends political meetings, catching the side glances and smirks of the sexist men who come her way. Despite the initial judgments, she falls in love and marries Denis, performed by Jim Broadbent with great tenderness.
The movie is comprised mostly of flashbacks, but those who are wary of these time-traveling devices, should not be dismayed. Lloyd handles the complexities of Thatcher’s life in balanced, but haunting ways: the Iron Lady in her elder age battles dementia, where she has constant hallucinations of Denis, who passed away from cancer. However, through the flashbacks, Lloyd reinforces how important the relationship had in Margaret’s rise.
The Iron Lady does not divulge into the minutest details of all the historical moments she dealt with in her political career, but rather, the story focuses on how Thatcher’s strength and resolve brings her through many historical conflicts. Smashing through numerous obstacles (developing a commanding presence, eradicating her dementia, and surviving and thriving in all-male society), Margaret Thatcher inspires the audience to examine our own lives, and where we can become as strong as iron. “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become… habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.”
Acting: Meryl Streep does not act as Margaret Thatcher; she is Margaret Thatcher. Her demeanor, voice, appearance, and overall essence of Thatcher are manifested in Streep, who won an Academy Award in Leading Actress for her performance. Jim Broadbent, who plays the husband Denis, breathes life into the marriage of the couple, charming the audience with his love and integrity. Alexandra Roach and Harry Lloyd who play young Thatcher and young Denis, respectively, act well together and separately.
Cinematography: Key shots help tell the story; for example, an overhead shot shows Thatcher as a blue dress in a sea of black suits. The film has a slightly greyish tone, but this does not dull the story nor the picture.
Plot: Touches upon some topics of Margaret’s professional endeavors, but remains focused on her highly complex personal life, of which she overcomes and battles her demons.