Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Iron Lady Review

Sup Internet!  This'll be a short and sweet review...because I didn't like The Iron Lady all that much.

The Iron Lady is a biopic of sorts about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Much like last year's other big biopic, J. Edgar, Iron Lady bounces between time periods to take us through the title character's life.  The main part of the story takes places in a more modern time, with an aged Thatcher dealing with her deceased husband's (played quite fantastically by Jim Broadbent) belongings and the onset of what probably is Alzheimer's.  She isn't the woman she once was, and we are taken through her life in myriad flashbacks.

I found the most compelling part of the story was the time we spent with a young Thatcher who is just getting into politics and starting a family.  The story as a whole is a mixed bag, bouncing from hallucinating-elderly Thatcher, to her younger self during key events throughout her reign as PM.  The main thrust of the narrative was to showcase that Margaret was a tooth-and-nails-fighting-politician, who did "battle every single day of [her] life."  She fought in her early years in college.  She fought to get a seat in the House of Commons.  She fought to become leader of her party.  She fought to become prime minister.  She fought to retake the Falkland Islands.  We get it.  She fought every day of her life.  I understand the need to focus on a connective through-line to highlight her political career, but it was done so at the loss of learning about her personal life.

The biggest missed opportunity in The Iron Lady is with respect to Thatcher's personal life.  Not that these films are directly comparable, but in 2010's The King's Speech, the King's personal life was dealt with quite nicely, as his wife was made into an actual character that directly affected the narrative.  Jim Broadbent is quite frankly wasted.  He is a fantastic actor and deserved more screen time.  I understand that this is a film about Margaret Thatcher, but its safe to assume that her family played a large role in her life.  She has two children that we don't really even see in any of the flash-back scenes.  And even then we don't get a real sense of how they affected her life and vice versa.  An argument could be made that Thatcher is a strong, independent woman (who, in one scene, points out that she made it alone for the first twenty-four years of her life) and this is reflected in the absence of her family for a large portion of the film.  I still would've liked to see what kind of impact her husband and children had on her.

The Iron Lady's biggest strength is its cast.  Specifically Meryl Streep.  She is on a whole 'nother planet in this film.  Within seconds you forget that you're watching Streep and think you're watching footage of Margaret Thatcher herself.  Its truly spellbinding to just watch Streep's Thatcher talk.  Her accent is incredible and captures the screen with her presence.  Even when she's playing the elderly Thatcher she's fantastic to watch.

The Iron Lady as a whole didn't really work all that well for me.  Much like J. Edgar, you watch this movie more for the performance than for the actual substance.  In that regard, TIL is fantastic.  Streep's acting ability is in full force and is mesmerizing to behold.  The rest of the film just didn't quite jell for me.  Sometimes there's just too much content in a lifetime to confine to one film.

The Iron Lady is a showcase for Meryl Streep's acting chops...but not much else.

Bullet is out.

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