The Iron Lady takes its title from the nickname given to Margaret Thatcher, played in this film by the incomparable Meryl Streep. The movie follows the career of Britain’s first and only female Prime Minister, jumping back and forth from present day to her early days in Lincolnshire, UK. Young Margaret was greatly influenced by her father, a Methodist minister, grocer, and mayor of her small town. It was here that Thatcher learned to speak publicly and to hone her arguments to persuade the people.
If there is a fault with the movie, it is that the story of Lady Thatcher is told mostly through flashback. This is good to frame the story; however, the result is that we see Streep more as a present-day Thatcher struggling with dementia and the loss of her beloved husband, Denis. Because of this directorial decision, we get very little insight into how Thatcher rose to power in an admittedly man’s world, how she partnered with President Reagan to arguably end the Cold War, and what it was like to live at one of the world’s most famous addresses, 10 Downing Street. When it comes to the Falklands War, here we are given a glimpse of Thatcher’s true grit and mettle. Streep, who received the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal, captures these moments with an unrelenting truth.
The Iron Lady shines from a historical perspective. Jim Broadbent is remarkable as Denis Thatcher, and Phyllida Lloyd, who directed Streep in Mama Mia, does an exceptional job of directing here as well.
Reviewed by FIDM Library Staff Member Monika Earle