Monday, January 16, 2012

The Iron Lady Shows a Woman Strong her Beliefs While the Film Shows a Female Director and Writer who are not Strong Enough to Tackle this Material

The Iron Lady (1 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!)
Written by Abi Morgan (Shame, Brick Lane)
Starring Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent

As I was walking out of the theater one woman stated "This was like The King's Speech" meets The Notebook."  In the simplest terms the girl was close to being correct, the only difference is both of those films are much better than Lady, and that the combination of these two elements made one bad film.

The film starts with Thatcher going to to buy milk at grocery store in her post Prime Minister days.  The ironic part is that no one in the store recognizes her and considers her to just be some old lady.  Margaret Thatcher was so much more.  The film shows Thatcher as she has grown old and her mind has started to go.  The film shows her senility as she talks to her deceased husband, and while doing so she remembers moments from her past.  The memories start with a young Margaret Thatcher during World War II and progress from a woman who would not remain silent, stood up for gender, her political party, fought to become Prime Minister, and did all of these things because of her belief in the ideals she had, not her own personal feelings; she would say feelings are the problem with this generation.

The same thing can be said for this film, no one used a coherent thought process while creating this film.  Phyllida Lloyd who directed the train wreck Mamma Mia, took the helm and attempted to direct this serious bio-pic; her attempt was valid, but she failed.  This film had Lloyd's stylistic ploys written all over the film.  The prime example was during the montage when Thatcher was doing well as the Prime Minister and she was dancing with Reagan etc. this just looked tacky.  Morgan's screenplay is not safe here either; she jumped all over the place, and while had a good sense of Thatcher's convictions I felt as thought there were pieces missing, or if they had focused on certain aspects of her tenure the film would have been much better.  I want to know about Thatcher's relationship with her son, I understand it was strained, but why?  The film never explains that, and it does not show enough about her younger days either.  I wanted a rounder portrait of this woman.

The only thing that saved this film was Streep's performance.  Streep is great in the role and capture the mannerisms and qualities of Thatcher impeccably.  While Streep is good in the role, I can't help but feel as though the performance strays more into being an impersonation than acting in certain moments.  I also think the the quality of the film drags her down further.  While Streep tries to give a complete picture of this woman and her politics, the people behind the scenes did not.

Thatcher was a true conservative woman and the film did not explore this concept enough for fear that it would isolate leftist audience members.  I myself welcome an open and honest portrayal of the woman who believed in more than a flat tax.  Sure the film delves slightly into her opposition of the unions, and wanting to defend the Empire during the crisis in the Falkland Islands, but like as I have stated this hallow film just did not do much to make me feel as though this was a lazy take on this interesting woman's life.

No comments: