The Iron Lady (2012) Review

It’s not often I will agree with David Cameron but he made a good observation of The Iron Lady – They probably should have waited. The film is advertised as a biopic of Margaret Thatcher, portraying the key moments in her political career, of which there are many. This film could have chosen from a huge amount of key events that affected the whole country and just focused on that. A film on Thatcher and the Miner’s Strike or Thatcher and the Falklands. The amount of material on these key moments in British history could have easily created a good feature length biopic on Margaret Thatcher. Instead the film decides to focus much more on an imagining of Margaret Thatcher’s life now than any proper focus on her political career.

Focusing on this event may have made for a more successful film.

This is what Cameron is getting at. The film uses Thatcher’s supposed dementia and hallucinations of her late husband to add as a gateway into each separate flashback. This would be fine if done subtly and infrequently but I don’t think I’m exaggerating in thinking that much more of the film was set in the present day than in the past. Even if I’m incorrect, it certainly felt that way. I’ve seen plenty of biopics that use the “flashback” or memory’s of the past technique as good “bookends” to a biographical film but this was overused!

It also led to key events in Margaret Thatcher’s career and British history being glossed over. The Miner’s Strike was briefly and hardly mentioned, the crisis surrounding the introduction of the Poll Tax was skimmed over and the only real historic moment that was looked at in any detail was Thatcher’s victory in the Falklands. This isn’t supposed to be an expression of my political views but I do think that a much more interesting film lay in the struggles with the British people than the war with Argentina. Not more important or more influential, just probably more interesting.

The way in which the film decided to tell the story shouldn’t take away from Meryl Streep’s fantastic performance as Margaret Thatcher. There is no moment that you don’t believe she is the first female Prime Minister. She has obviously done her homework and gives a seemless portrayal of the Iron Lady. If she doesn’t win the Oscar for best actress I will be very surprised.

A flawless performance

Jim Broadbent as Dennis Thatcher is also fantastic. I don’t know much about the Prime Minister’s husband or how accurate his portrayal is but nevertheless he played his part fantastically. It’s a real shame that he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar alongside Meryl Streep.

As good a performance as Streep

This review will seem like I didn’t enjoy the film. I did though. It is very good. The actual historic parts are done very well and are very interesting. At no point was I looking at my watch or bored. It is because of how well these sections of the film were done that I felt cheated. It was a missed opportunity. This film could have been a very interesting, fantastically acted, accurate portrayal of one of the most controversial and polarizing periods of British history. Instead it felt like an awkward imagining of a woman slowly losing her mind. A woman who is still with us.

Overall, go and see the Iron Lady if it is a part of history or an individual from our past that interests you. Don’t go and see it expecting a good historic biography of the Female Prime Minister though. This film is a fictional look at Margaret Thacher’s life now, interspersed with a factual look at her very interesting time as leader of Britain.

Rating 3.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

The film focuses far too much on this version of Margaret Thatcher!
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