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Iron Lady, The (DQ)


Stars: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Alexandra Roach, Nicholas Farrell, Richard E Grant, Anthony Head, Harry Lloyd, Iain Glen

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Why can't film biographies be straightforward any more? This glance at Margaret Thatcher's life (and it's no more than that) is interrupted countless times by unkind and uncomfortable scenes of Thatcher (Streep) going quietly gaga as an old lady and talking to the ghost of her late husband (Broadbent).

In between, we see a series of sketches depicting Maggie as a young woman (Roach) in her father's grocery store; fired by his rhetoric at local Conservative meetings to enter politics; defeated in her first bid to become an MP; marrying Denis; entering Parliament at 35; becoming foreign secretary (at one point erroneously referred to as secretary of state) and then prime minister.

The film attempts a warts-and-all portrait, but is far too light in detail and careless with facts to succeed. Events after the Falklands War, for example, are shown before it. And were there really no other woman MPs during Mrs Thatcher's tenure in Parliament?

Performances, Broadbent's apart, are actorly and lack the whiff of real life, and Streep's old age makeup at times makes her look like Ken Dodd (a scary thought in itself). The film doesn't, in fact, tell us much we don't already know about its subject, whose life might hopefully be more tellingly revealed in a TV documentary.

David Quinlan

UK 2011. UK Distributor: Pathe. Colour by deluxe.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 02 Jan 2012