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Iron Lady, The (AF)


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

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

“Streep-for-an-Academy-Award-for-‘The Iron Lady’” Media tub-thumping has become more and more frenzied in the last few days with the British newspaper ‘The Daily Telegraph’ recently stating, “five bookmakers, including William Hill, are running the odds on her to win as evens”. So you know where to put your money if you’re hoping to make a profit out of the Oscars.

And, since funds from the National Lottery helped fund the film, let’s hope that when Streep accepts her (predicted) Oscar on 26 February and thanks director Lloyd, writer Morgan, the cast, crew, her agent, her family and everyone else qualified to receive felicitations for helping her with the award, she will find time to thank all the many British lotto players who contributed money towards the film and her triumph.

This biopic of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is essentially a film of two parts. The first, a potted history of Thatcher’s rise from grocer’s daughter to premier and her subsequent all, is competently if sometimes inaccurately and too often blandly scripted, but it certainly serves to showcase Streep, her carefully applied ‘Thatcher’ intonations (good but nowhere near as clever or credible as the impersonation achieved by the late comedienne Janet Brown) augmented by Oscar-worthy make-up and (mostly but not always) impressive wigs (“You’ve got lovely hair”, an image maker working on her public persona tells her).

The second half, a confection that presents Thatcher as a bemused old woman suffering from dementia, living in a world of her own and having conversations with her dead husband Denis is essentially invented, unsavoury and cruel, a storyline of sheer malice in wonderland.

That said, Lloyd (who guided Streep through her memorable triumph of doing the splits in Mamma Mia!) ensures she showcases her star. Nobody else really gets much of a look-in which is in line with the film’s raison d’etre.

Broadbent does as well as possible with his role of the spectral long-dead husband, Roach has her moments and Grant dyed his hair to play Michael Heseltine to no great effect.

But this is the Meryl Show and we’re never allowed to forget it. What we can forget are accurate characterization and political accuracy or insight,

Alan Frank

UK/France 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: 08 Jan 2012