Film Review: The Iron Lady

Nominated for Academy Awards in both acting and make up, The Iron Lady has attracted a lot of attention from both the critics and regular moviegoers. Director Phyllida Lloyd, telling the untold story of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s life after leaving her political office, takes the iconic “Iron Lady” out of Parliament and gives the audience a glimpse at her life at home as an elderly, dementia-stricken woman dealing with the loss of her husband. The narrative is displayed through the grief-stricken Margaret Thatcher reliving her memories and letting go of her past so that she may move forward.

The film scored veteran actress Meryl Streep her seventeenth Academy Award nomination, and a well-deserved one at that. She plays a younger, strong Thatcher as well as the elderly, emotionally vulnerable woman with poise and finesse, believably as per Streep’s usual. Meryl’s exceptionally gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, and proud performance is joined by that of Jim Broadbent, playing Denis Thatcher, the Iron Husband, as it were. Broadbent’s performance, while not as serious or powerful as Streep’s was also fantastic, bringing a bittersweet sense of comic relief to a heart-breaking film. The rest of the ensemble cast, all with much smaller parts, acted beautifully as well, breathing life into this remarkable story.

Copyright 2011 The Weinstein Company

As the Academy has noted, the make up design in the Iron Lady is absolutely spectacular. Meryl Streep ages thirty years right before our eyes on screen. What’s absolutely incredible about this is that the Margaret Thatcher that Meryl Streep portrays in the film range in age from fifty to seventy-four years. Ms. Streep herself is sixty-three years old, but the prosthetics and other cosmetic miracles create a very real transition in years, both to add and deduct time from her face.

As a person born a few years after the end of Prime Minister Thatcher’s administration, I lacked the emotional resonance attached to the very real and powerful events depicted. A lot of the power in the film is dependent, intentionally so, upon the emotional connection to those watching. That being said, it may not appeal to a wide collegiate audience for the lack of that frame of reference. I, being an intense Anglophile and lover of all things film, took great pleasure in this well-made and powerful production.

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