The Iron Lady (12A)

Film

Drama

Meryl-Streep-The-Iron-Lady.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jan 3 2012

The calculation is fairly obvious: you’re doing a film about Margaret Thatcher, a huge figure, so you need an actress who can deliver on that scale. The imperious Meryl Streep seems like an apt choice. When she talks, men listen, and she’s always excelled at portraying women who know their own worth. Who better, then, to take on Britain’s most divisive post-war Prime Minister, a woman who remodelled the political landscape and was both lionised and reviled for doing so?

Much as you can argue the case for Streep, it’s a casting decision which brings its own problems. We expect a biopic of Maggie, but what we get is a showcase for Streep’s impersonation of her. It's an impersonation startling in its bravura technique – and doubtless bound for awards season garlands – yet which essentially boils down to Streep doing another of her amazing turns. When that collides with one’s own strongly defined perceptions of a real-life figure (frankly, dear reader, the very thought of her still makes my blood boil), there’s trouble ahead.

Abi Morgan’s screenplay bravely grounds the whole story in a portrait of a retired Lady T in her dotage. The idea, presumably, is to settle the audience by humanising the old battleaxe before we flit back and forth to the more contentious political material. This is effective to a certain extent, since Streep's work stands on its own here and is more humanely engaging for it, even if the material bristles with a self-conscious naughtiness about presenting its subject as Lady Gaga and giving her a dead Denis Thatcher to talk to. Jim Broadbent is predictably marvellous here, self-effacing yet somehow twinkly, though most touching of all is Olivia Colman as daughter Carol, displaying deep affection for a mum far too self-involved to give anything back. And yet, having softened us up with this study of the lioness in winter, Morgan disappoints by not going that far with it, missing the opportunity to get much dramatic traction from Thatcher rethinking her achievements in hindsight. Certainly, there’s a sense that the bullish determination which made her a political titan later rather isolated her – even within her own family – yet this emotional candour isn’t matched by the film’s take on her career trajectory, which succumbs too easily to knockabout and thus fails to point up its occasional attempted criticisms of its subject’s narrow-minded intransigence.

Asking us to accept the young Thatcher as a class warrior and proto-feminist cutting a swathe through the Etonian ranks of the Tory hierarchy succeeds for a while as a jolly provocation, yet asking us to hold that thought when she reaches Number 10 comes across as dangerously indulgent. The make-up and hair department work overtime to crimp and shape the likes of Richard E Grant as Michael Heseltine and Anthony Head as Geoffrey Howe into semi-recognisable versions of the grandees of yore, yet everyone seems to be channelling ‘Spitting Image’ japery here, which proves counter-productive and facile in the circumstances. Taking on too much history without the running-time to do it justice is the undoing of director Phyllida Lloyd (who directed Streep in ‘Mamma Mia!’ in 2008), and the closer Streep gets to grandstanding high comedy (in the cut and thrust of PM’s questions, for instance) the more credibility is sacrificed for glib short-term impact.

Yes, there’s some acting to admire here, and you have to give the whole production credit for having the balls to take this on in the first place, yet the lack of a clear controlling vision deprives the drama of genuine cumulative impact. Streep’s Mrs T is at various times an ambitious Tory firebrand, a leader who makes the tough decisions Britain needs, an aloof egomaniac, a doddery old dear. The film’s often for, sometimes against, ultimately a bit wishy-washy. Certainly, it’s worth seeing and arguing over, but my personal take on Thatcher remains unchanged, Streep’s virtuoso ministrations notwithstanding.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Jan 6, 2012

Duration:

105 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Phyllida Lloyd

Cast:

Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Anthony Head, Richard E Grant

Screenwriter:

Abi Morgan

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:11
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:6
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|58
1 person listening
maltesers

Ridiculous. Throughout the whole movie they showed her emotional side, and spent about 10 mins on her actual political side. They betrayed her as being mentally unstable. She was only very upset because the person she loved and who she had loved for most of her life had died and left her lonely. Margaret Thatcher was an amazing woman (to me, i know other people may disagree, but that is what i think), so why didn't they focus on that? Because if they had it would have been a great movie because of the good cast. Meryl Streep was great in this movie, as an actress, but the movie was just awful and disrespectful to a wonderful woman.

maltesers

Ridiculous. Throughout the whole movie they showed her emotional side, and spent about 10 mins on her actual political side. They betrayed her as being mentally unstable. She was only very upset because the person she loved and who she had loved for most of her life had died and left her lonely. Margaret Thatcher was an amazing woman (to me, i know other people may disagree, but that is what i think), so why didn't they focus on that? Because if they had it would have been a great movie because of the good cast. Meryl Streep was great in this movie, as an actress, but the movie was just awful and disrespectful to a wonderful woman.

geronimo

i think is the wors movie ever. i rescue that the actors are good but the film is very boring

geronimo

i think is the wors movie ever. i rescue that the actors are good but the film is very boring

LadyJane

I totally agree with an other viewer's comment "stunning acting first class - but boring as hell". The scenario is broken into small pieces which go back and forth between flash-back and her late Alzheimer disease. The result is catastrophic on the movie. The scenes are overly short and simplistic, which make them quite caricatural. That's a shame because the idea of the contrast between the emergence of a woman at the highest post bypassing men and her appalling decline was a very appealing subject.

LadyJane

I totally agree with an other viewer's comment "stunning acting first class - but boring as hell". The scenario is broken into small pieces which go back and forth between flash-back and her late Alzheimer disease. The result is catastrophic on the movie. The scenes are overly short and simplistic, which make them quite caricatural. That's a shame because the idea of the contrast between the emergence of a woman at the highest post bypassing men and her appalling decline was a very appealing subject.

Nefertiiti

Is there anything Meryl Streep can't do? After seeing this movie I think not. She was stunning in her role of strong and unwavering MT. As a foreigner with little knowledge of that era and intrigued by the cult personality of Thatcher, this movie provided me with really good insight into the politics and society of that particular time in history. It was intelligent, emotional and humorous; everything I want in a film..

Nefertiiti

Is there anything Meryl Streep can't do? After seeing this movie I think not. She was stunning in her role of strong and unwavering MT. As a foreigner with little knowledge of that era and intrigued by the cult personality of Thatcher, this movie provided me with really good insight into the politics and society of that particular time in history. It was intelligent, emotional and humorous; everything I want in a film..

Ric

Streep is stunningly good and in fact I would say this is one of the great charachter portayals of all time. She real carries the film which is generally good but lingers way too much in the present and these convenient reminders that keep cropping up in her appartment so we can go back sporadically in time are a bit clumsy and predictable. I was half expecting a model of the Belgrano in the loo.

Ric

Streep is stunningly good and in fact I would say this is one of the great charachter portayals of all time. She real carries the film which is generally good but lingers way too much in the present and these convenient reminders that keep cropping up in her appartment so we can go back sporadically in time are a bit clumsy and predictable. I was half expecting a model of the Belgrano in the loo.

KP

I found this highly watchable and absorbing - script glitches notwithstanding. Streep's performance is mesmerising and credible -there seems to be no limit to the woman's repertoire. At this rate, the other best actress Oscar contenders need not even bother turning up ! !

KP

I found this highly watchable and absorbing - script glitches notwithstanding. Streep's performance is mesmerising and credible -there seems to be no limit to the woman's repertoire. At this rate, the other best actress Oscar contenders need not even bother turning up ! !

mirkle

Mrs Lear this ain't. The craving for power leading to doddery dementia seemed to be groping towards this but it left me completely cold. There was no tragedy. The ghostly device of Denis appearing to annoy her annoyed me it was used so often. The story was told in nineteen forties fashion with shots of TV like old newsreel, without any context. I think they used the spinning headlines technique at one point. As someone else says, the performance seemed out of all proportion to the film. I enjoyed the recent TV version much more.

mirkle

Mrs Lear this ain't. The craving for power leading to doddery dementia seemed to be groping towards this but it left me completely cold. There was no tragedy. The ghostly device of Denis appearing to annoy her annoyed me it was used so often. The story was told in nineteen forties fashion with shots of TV like old newsreel, without any context. I think they used the spinning headlines technique at one point. As someone else says, the performance seemed out of all proportion to the film. I enjoyed the recent TV version much more.

Clare Nesbitt

I got from the reviews that The Iron Lady was not a film about Thatcher’s politcal history but about the mental and physical decline of a exceptionally powerful woman leader who ruled ruthlessly during a diffilult time. When I saw it I thought it that the marriage didn’t work well in that the lightly touched political events were far more interesting than the heavily touched decline of the leader. Thinking that the commentators who said they thought it unkind to show Thatcher in distress while she was still alive had a point, I thought that the filmakers must have a strong reason for making it now. Were they comparing Thatcher reign to Camerons? Are we being warned that we are heading down a similar path of civic unrest and should stop or is it that in a period of civic unrest we need ruthless leader? The former is more likely I think.

Clare Nesbitt

I got from the reviews that The Iron Lady was not a film about Thatcher’s politcal history but about the mental and physical decline of a exceptionally powerful woman leader who ruled ruthlessly during a diffilult time. When I saw it I thought it that the marriage didn’t work well in that the lightly touched political events were far more interesting than the heavily touched decline of the leader. Thinking that the commentators who said they thought it unkind to show Thatcher in distress while she was still alive had a point, I thought that the filmakers must have a strong reason for making it now. Were they comparing Thatcher reign to Camerons? Are we being warned that we are heading down a similar path of civic unrest and should stop or is it that in a period of civic unrest we need ruthless leader? The former is more likely I think.

Andy

I agree that the movie could have spent less time on Thatcher's current state of mind and more time explaining the problems she faced and her responses and actions taken as well as her achievements and influence on the state of Britain's problems in the 1980's. It must be a confusing movie to anyone not familiar with what was going on at that time in Britain,and to those who know little about Britains political institutions. I wonder where Britain would be now if Thatcher had not taken the actions that she did at the time. Nobody ever seems to ask that question !

Andy

I agree that the movie could have spent less time on Thatcher's current state of mind and more time explaining the problems she faced and her responses and actions taken as well as her achievements and influence on the state of Britain's problems in the 1980's. It must be a confusing movie to anyone not familiar with what was going on at that time in Britain,and to those who know little about Britains political institutions. I wonder where Britain would be now if Thatcher had not taken the actions that she did at the time. Nobody ever seems to ask that question !

Rob

As a non-Brit, I was looking forward to The Iron Lady in the hope of discovering more about Thatcher. Within the first 15min, I was bored. This movie is about the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s and little to do with Thatcher. The constant hallucinatory scenes, and the flash backs to irrelevant conversations acted like fill-ins for a poorly constructed storyline. As expected Meryl was flawless. The accent never wavered and I imagine she emulated Thatcher right down to the mannerisms. Disappointed. I'll move on to the next movie now...

Rob

As a non-Brit, I was looking forward to The Iron Lady in the hope of discovering more about Thatcher. Within the first 15min, I was bored. This movie is about the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s and little to do with Thatcher. The constant hallucinatory scenes, and the flash backs to irrelevant conversations acted like fill-ins for a poorly constructed storyline. As expected Meryl was flawless. The accent never wavered and I imagine she emulated Thatcher right down to the mannerisms. Disappointed. I'll move on to the next movie now...

mark

Worth watching simply for Streep's remarkable portrayal of the lady. I truly felt like I was seeing and hearing Maggie herself.

mark

Worth watching simply for Streep's remarkable portrayal of the lady. I truly felt like I was seeing and hearing Maggie herself.

Paul

The King's Speech this isn't and Streep gives an A-list performance in a B-list film that would better suit on TV. Neither one story or the other in terms of private versus public life it satisfies in neither place. My mother survived my father and then went down with dementia so I had hoped for something more insightful than the clichés dished up. A near empty cinema so this film is not pulling in the crowds through word of mouth so soon after its release. If you've seen the trailers then you have seen the best bits. Wait for the video, don't blow your money on this ticket.

Paul

The King's Speech this isn't and Streep gives an A-list performance in a B-list film that would better suit on TV. Neither one story or the other in terms of private versus public life it satisfies in neither place. My mother survived my father and then went down with dementia so I had hoped for something more insightful than the clichés dished up. A near empty cinema so this film is not pulling in the crowds through word of mouth so soon after its release. If you've seen the trailers then you have seen the best bits. Wait for the video, don't blow your money on this ticket.

Caroline

Very well done and absolutely sublime acting by Meryl Streep. I was very impressed by the whole film.

Caroline

Very well done and absolutely sublime acting by Meryl Streep. I was very impressed by the whole film.

Oncewas12

I found it poor in so many respects. Streep is good of course, but sometimes more of an impersonation, and Jim Broadbent badly miscast (and miswritten). Some good acting, but a flimsy version of what could easily have been the film of the year. Whatever happened to the privotal Miners Strike, which changed management of the unions and the economy? Avoids so much that was controversial, and lacking in much intellectual depth. And of course. far too much on dementia - in fact, annoyingly so. This could have been SO GOOD.. but it was rather silly.

Oncewas12

I found it poor in so many respects. Streep is good of course, but sometimes more of an impersonation, and Jim Broadbent badly miscast (and miswritten). Some good acting, but a flimsy version of what could easily have been the film of the year. Whatever happened to the privotal Miners Strike, which changed management of the unions and the economy? Avoids so much that was controversial, and lacking in much intellectual depth. And of course. far too much on dementia - in fact, annoyingly so. This could have been SO GOOD.. but it was rather silly.

JOHN POWERS

Strangest thing about this film is how it looks and feels like a lengthy coming attractions for a movie not yet made. Director Phillida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan provide tiny moments from Thatcher's long career, lazily united by the presence of an antiquarian, demented Thatcher trapped in her memories. Meryl Streep is pretty amazing, as always, though some of the prosthetics in the picture occasionally make Thatcher look like an old lady gorilla (out of Planet of the Apes). Jim Broadbent is merely comical as Denis Thatcher. Others in the cast of characters spanning nearly a half century in Thatcher's life simply aren't given enough screen time to make much more than a quick impact. For all this, Streep's performance and some effective ideas from director Lloyd suggest that this could have been quite a picture---it just needs another hour of exposition and drama. Besides Streep, everyone else is lost in all-too-brief episodes. Streep and company do suggest, in a couple of scenes, the megalomaniac behind the working-class matriarch.

JOHN POWERS

Strangest thing about this film is how it looks and feels like a lengthy coming attractions for a movie not yet made. Director Phillida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan provide tiny moments from Thatcher's long career, lazily united by the presence of an antiquarian, demented Thatcher trapped in her memories. Meryl Streep is pretty amazing, as always, though some of the prosthetics in the picture occasionally make Thatcher look like an old lady gorilla (out of Planet of the Apes). Jim Broadbent is merely comical as Denis Thatcher. Others in the cast of characters spanning nearly a half century in Thatcher's life simply aren't given enough screen time to make much more than a quick impact. For all this, Streep's performance and some effective ideas from director Lloyd suggest that this could have been quite a picture---it just needs another hour of exposition and drama. Besides Streep, everyone else is lost in all-too-brief episodes. Streep and company do suggest, in a couple of scenes, the megalomaniac behind the working-class matriarch.

Alfie (Essex)

I rarely disagree with the reviewer in Time Out but think this film deserves a higher rating, if only for the huntingly accurate portral of someone suffering with dementia, a subject with very limited coverage in film. The film is very engaging with good performances and i think portrays the feeling of action at that time within politics wether you agree or disagree with the decisions made at that time. It does attempt to cover too much ground within the limited time available and i am sure would be confusing if not familiar with the period. This was an extraordinary historical period within British politics and therefore a must see 'in my opinion'

Alfie (Essex)

I rarely disagree with the reviewer in Time Out but think this film deserves a higher rating, if only for the huntingly accurate portral of someone suffering with dementia, a subject with very limited coverage in film. The film is very engaging with good performances and i think portrays the feeling of action at that time within politics wether you agree or disagree with the decisions made at that time. It does attempt to cover too much ground within the limited time available and i am sure would be confusing if not familiar with the period. This was an extraordinary historical period within British politics and therefore a must see 'in my opinion'

scrumpyjack

Well Kevin Pickin, thanks to this great effort (due to Streep) perhaps it will get a proper, totally fitting tribute in film as this one's doing good business. JUST REJOICE in that news! Seen it twice more...it grows but will never satisfy, which may be a good enough vibe for a film on Blair, but in Maggie's case.....(!)

scrumpyjack

Well Kevin Pickin, thanks to this great effort (due to Streep) perhaps it will get a proper, totally fitting tribute in film as this one's doing good business. JUST REJOICE in that news! Seen it twice more...it grows but will never satisfy, which may be a good enough vibe for a film on Blair, but in Maggie's case.....(!)

Fi

Saw it on the opening night. Packed audience burst into spontaneous applause. Thought the portrayal of her dementia was sensitive. Highly recommended.

Fi

Saw it on the opening night. Packed audience burst into spontaneous applause. Thought the portrayal of her dementia was sensitive. Highly recommended.

phyl

I'm no Tory, but it was good to see a different side to Thatcher. So much hatred of her out there with people pronouncing her the most evil woman in history and other Daily Mailesque witch hunting rubbish. I'm sure she wouldn't be vilified quite as strongly and aggressively if she were a man. This film thankfully shows her as a human being. Also, Meryll Streep is awesome.

phyl

I'm no Tory, but it was good to see a different side to Thatcher. So much hatred of her out there with people pronouncing her the most evil woman in history and other Daily Mailesque witch hunting rubbish. I'm sure she wouldn't be vilified quite as strongly and aggressively if she were a man. This film thankfully shows her as a human being. Also, Meryll Streep is awesome.

anna

Really enjoyed this film. I think it's a strength that it shows the different sides to her character - isn't that what full characterisations are about?! I also don't think it's intention is to 'turn you' to liking Thatcher. It's a really interesting portrait of a person working hard to do something with their life and standing up for what they believe in and getting to the top of their field before losing it all. I found it really moving, especially the bits about her and Dennis and the parts where we see her gradually losing her mind in later life. I'd thoroughly recommend this film.

anna

Really enjoyed this film. I think it's a strength that it shows the different sides to her character - isn't that what full characterisations are about?! I also don't think it's intention is to 'turn you' to liking Thatcher. It's a really interesting portrait of a person working hard to do something with their life and standing up for what they believe in and getting to the top of their field before losing it all. I found it really moving, especially the bits about her and Dennis and the parts where we see her gradually losing her mind in later life. I'd thoroughly recommend this film.

Sarah

Put politics to one side - this is an extraordinary interpretation. Streep is outstanding and will scope the Oscar - see it for her performance. The supporting cast create a gritty backdrop.

Sarah

Put politics to one side - this is an extraordinary interpretation. Streep is outstanding and will scope the Oscar - see it for her performance. The supporting cast create a gritty backdrop.

john o sullivan

I saw this in the socialist republic of Kilburn and the audience sat their at the end silent and blinking AS mich as they hated Mrs T ...Streep had blown them away..I think the script and direction are better than the critics are making out...Iknow you cant give it four stars like the Telegraph.. because the Gaurdinistas would boycott TO for ever.. but its an interesting take on the Thatcher years.. And Meyll doesnt knock it out of the field but the whole bloody continent....Im goimg to see it again to wonder again at her genius...theres interesting artyicle about her on set written by an extra.. and guess what shes charming and modest....

john o sullivan

I saw this in the socialist republic of Kilburn and the audience sat their at the end silent and blinking AS mich as they hated Mrs T ...Streep had blown them away..I think the script and direction are better than the critics are making out...Iknow you cant give it four stars like the Telegraph.. because the Gaurdinistas would boycott TO for ever.. but its an interesting take on the Thatcher years.. And Meyll doesnt knock it out of the field but the whole bloody continent....Im goimg to see it again to wonder again at her genius...theres interesting artyicle about her on set written by an extra.. and guess what shes charming and modest....

scrumpyjack

Ian's bang on, bar his rating. A hearty round of applause from the Odeon West End's 500 or so 6pm Fri punters...and I suspect 100% of it for Streep who gives the finest female performance I can recall. Has there ever been a female director so undeserving of an actress? No matter, I'm going again on Sun then Tue...and a few more times id wager. 8/10

scrumpyjack

Ian's bang on, bar his rating. A hearty round of applause from the Odeon West End's 500 or so 6pm Fri punters...and I suspect 100% of it for Streep who gives the finest female performance I can recall. Has there ever been a female director so undeserving of an actress? No matter, I'm going again on Sun then Tue...and a few more times id wager. 8/10

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