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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Iron Lady | Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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The Iron Lady | Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent | Review

If the title makes her sound like a powerful train, it’s not far off from the truth.  Before she entered political life she was a chemist and barrister; she was always a pioneer.  The only female Prime Minister in England’s history still lives (she’s 86) and the title refers to the nickname given to her by the Soviets because of her strong-willed resolve.

Meryl Streep fills Margaret Thatcher’s fashionable suits and pearls with an erect spine and aristocratic speech that the politician needed lessons on how to control.  She was advised on how to speak and gesture, and to lower her voice so as to not appear shrill.  She endured sexist diatribes as an MP in Parliament.

As Thatcher, Streep portrays the respected, sometimes vilified leader of the UK’s Conservative Party.  Also a wife and mother, it seemed Thatcher “had it all” and then some.  That “all” came with death threats and a hotel bomb.

From young college student to her post PM years, the film highlights Thatcher’s tragedies and triumphs in life and in office.  From her tough anti-union stances to her almost personal war to win the Falkland Islands back from Argentinean nationalists, she was not always popular.  More than one scene shows an angry mob swarming her car in protest after an official meeting.

Always self assured and full speed ahead with her conservative vision for the UK, Thatcher led the country from 1979-1990, when she was challenged, then ousted by members of her own party.  She resigned as the longest serving Prime Minister for more than 150 years.

Once out of office, Thatcher begins to show the signs of a creeping dementia, talking to her late husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) as if he were still alive.  She paid the price of a decades-long public life.  Her daughter Carol (Olivia Colman) she visits often, more as a caretaker to someone she’d long ago given up on to attend recitals and bake sales.

Streep as usual throws herself into the role, or should I say steeps herself (this is Britain after all) no matter how far that might take her from her comfort zone., Streep inhabits Thatcher’s speech, mannerisms and mindset – looking more like the Lady PM later in life when she nearly disappears into the once powerful political figure.

Director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) uses a series of flashbacks when appropriate and not always in order to illustrate Thatcher’s early years and rise to prominence.  She allows the weakening, the self-doubt, the regrets to show through, but also reveals how the duty, the belief in the importance of ideas rather than feelings, and the will that seemed made of iron were forged.

Lloyd does not involve the viewer, but simply lets them watch as the life of Margaret Thatcher unfolds.  The compilation of facts is nevertheless more than capable of maintaining interest, whatever personal differences might exist.

Few have had this kind of life; few are up to it, and few want it.

Apparently, Thatcher had the mettle.

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