October 24, 2014
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The Iron Lady
Don Fowler
3.5 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Streep as Hatcher is a 10+)

Meryl Streep gives a 10+ performance as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, outdoing her role as Julia Child and proving that she is one of the greatest actors of all time.

Streep portrays Thatcher as an aging woman, living modestly and moving in and out from periods of dementia, imagining that her deceased husband (Jim Broadbent) is in the room with her. Streep looks and sounds like Thatcher. Give credit both to the actor and the makeup folks.

She is equally convincing in the flashbacks of her controversial days as the conservative Prime Minister, making many unpopular decisions, dealing with a sexist Parliament and making and living with her political decisions.

We watched the movie at a full-house Friday matinee showing at the Warwick Showcase, where mostly senior citizens stood in the hallway after the movie sharing their opinions, which were the same as ours. We all wanted to see more of the past and learn (or be reminded of) the many historical events that Thatcher and Great Britain went through under her leadership. Most of the important ones are there, but they could have been expanded a bit more instead of appearing as brief vignettes. We would have preferred more of the past and less of the present and feel that younger folks might be a bit lost.

We do learn about Thatcher's poor and humble upbringing, the daughter of a shopkeeper who had strong feelings about the male-dominated English political system and wasn't afraid to give her opinions. She had strong support from her husband, who supported her, humored her and carefully advised her. She shocked her peers, and the world, by being the first woman elected to Parliament. The scenes of her being "trained" by her PR people are priceless.

We get mere glimpses of the major historical moments: the garbage strikes, union uprisings, bombings, Faukland Islands conflict, etc. We learn that the Russians have dubbed her "The Iron Lady,” but we never really learn why.

The film is great for what it does tell us about this powerful lady. We only wish it had told us more.

There are some wonderful Thatcher quotes, delivered brilliantly by Streep, and some poignant moments as she slips in and out of reality in her later years.

Because of its many beautiful moments and Meryl Streep's incredible performance, we strongly recommend this movie.

Rated PG-13, with some news clippings showing riots and violence.


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