‘The Iron Lady’ Review: An Unfortunate Mess But Streep is Undeniably Mesmerizing

Photo Credit: http://www.getthebigpicture.net/blog/2012/1/13/movie-review-the-iron-lady.html

Here is a film with a massive amount of potential that just refuses to pick a direction to let that potential be realized. In fact the only fully realized part of The Iron Lady is Meryl Streep who truly disappears into the role of Margaret Thatcher. But other than that, the film is almost a complete disaster if it weren’t for the brief moments that Streep can inject humanity in this lifeless movie.

The biggest reason that The Iron Lady fails is its frustrating narrative structure. The film starts in Thatcher’s twilight years as she suffers from dementia. All of the scenes you have seen in the trailers are technically flashbacks. Unlike most films that include flashbacks, Thatcher’s memories don’t necessarily tell a story and play like, well, memories. Details are forgotten or left out and left for the viewer to put together. Most of her greatest career accomplishments, or failures, are put into montages. Movies need scenes to tell a compelling story, not clips from news reels, which are used far too often here. The editing doesn’t help the film either as techniques such as off screen dialogue are over used to beyond annoying levels. Speaking of dialogue, the script is atrocious throughout most of the film. Only Thatcher’s dialogue feels real and that is largely because of Streep’s delivery.

But The Iron Lady isn’t all bad. There are some great moments and sequences that make Margaret Thatcher’s life pretty exciting. Jim Broadbent also does pretty well as Thatcher’s husband Dennis. But most of the positives aspects of the film can be attributed to Meryl Streep. It literally took me seconds to forget that I was watching an actress in a movie. Her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher is about as great as acting can get, which is no surprise considering it is Meryl Streep under the make-up. Speaking of which, the make-up is incredibly believable and never falters.

It is a shame that these great aspects of The Iron Lady cannot save it. With a competent script and a different approach, this could have been the movie of the year. But instead, it will be remembered for its great performance and not being a great film. (** out of 4)

 

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