For a person of a certain age (John Lennon and I were never alive at the same time) and of a certain nationality (specifically non-British), Margaret Thatcher doesn’t elicit strong feelings for me. And that might be a key to how one views the 2011 biographical film The Iron Lady. Hollywood star Meryl Streep portrays the once British prime minister in the film and she certainly looks the part. But what’s troubling is the sound. If you can get over the distraction of Meryl Streep portraying Julia Child portraying Thatcher, then you’re in for the long run.
Told in flashbacks, The Iron Lady portrays a modern day Thatcher — widowed, lonely and suffering from dementia — looking back on her life, her accomplishments and failures. For those not already familiar with specific incidents, such as an IRA bombing of a hotel that then-Prime Minister Thatcher was staying at, then the film can be tough to follow at times. Even for those familiar with those points in time, the film can be difficult to follow. With Thatcher being haunted by her late husband, Denis, it jumps all over the place and watchers are left to wonder sometimes.
The film ties in real life events with actual video footage. But the usage of the footage takes away, somewhat, from the modern feel. At those moments it feels like a made for TV movie.
Streep herself carries the film, as is needed for a film of this type. Overall, The Iron Lady is an interesting look at a notable person from our recent history. But The Iron Lady is certainly not a definitive take or a film that digs deep into the person of focus. Instead, The Iron Lady offers a introductory view to the West’s first female prime minister and the mind behind some controversial leadership.