Alice da Cunha
Running Time: 105 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A
Country: France, United Kingdom
It takes a brave person to make a generally positive movie about a public figure more divisive than God but that’s just what Phyllida Lloyd has gone and done with Maggie Thatcher.
Bravely, Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan focus a large part of the story on Thatcher’s decent into dementia whilst the subject is still actually alive. Through flashbacks we see Maggie’s rise to power, the Falklands War, the Miners’ Strike, 1990 leadership battle with Howe (Head) and Heseltine (Grant), and more, all with her loyal husband Denis (Broadbent) at her side.
The best thing to come out of Lloyd’s film is definitely Meryl Streep who proves that whatever she touches – be it saccharine sweet musicals, deep dramas or political biographies – she always comes out smelling of roses. Streep is note perfect as she has the mannerisms just right and her imagining of Thatcher’s fall into dementia is both impressive and disturbing. With the accent down to a tee she could give Russell Crowe (in Robin Hood) a lesson on how not to butcher a regional English dialect.
The Iron Lady suffers from a bewildering chronology and a blizzard of flashbacks that do nothing to help an international audience who might not be completely at ease with the story. More importantly, this is a bit too toothless and nice and will fall foul of her critics as an overly sentimental love-in that tries as hard as possible to steer away from her cutthroat political side and how it affects people outside of politics and instead chooses to keep it light and fluffy. The best parts are certainly when Thatcher is let off the leash and we can see a side that more people will recognise. Sadly, this is not often enough.
If this movie has sticking power then the future looks bright for Thatcher’s reputation.
It's Got: Some brave moments, an amazing performance from Meryl Streep - Oscar winner?
It Needs: More politics, a more daring look at her opinions and life
Oddly this is simultaneously a brave movie and a toothless biopic. It’s certainly lifted by a stellar performance from Meryl Streep that goes beyond mere impersonation.