Iron Lady, movie starring Meryl Streep
Five out of five stars
Once again Meryl Streep demonstrates that she is the premier actress of her generation. In this case, she plays a powerful woman at two distinct stages of her life. While some of this is due to the talents of the makeup crew, the actress must be able to pull it off with facial expressions and body language.
The Iron Lady is of course conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain as well as the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the twentieth century. Ironically, that nickname was given to her by a Soviet journalist rather than one in the west. She was known for having rigid policies that she pushed with a single-minded determination. Thatcher suffered from a series of strokes in her later years, so her mental capabilities were weakened.
There are essentially three distinct temporal tracks to the film, the first is Thatcher’s early years, from growing up the daughter of a grocer until her first election to a seat in parliament. The second covers her years as prime minister and the third her later years where she is depicted as suffering from hallucinations. Specifically, her deceased husband Dennis is a fundamental part of her life at this time.
Streep plays Thatcher as Prime Minister as well as in her later years. While the inner machinations of a political party and legislature are generally unknown, there is very little in the way of poetic license taken in this film in that area. The scenes of delusion are of course fictional, yet they serve very well as the premises for the flashbacks she experiences to earlier times in her life. Furthermore, since her daughter revealed that Thatcher suffered from dementia and that she had to repeatedly be told that her husband was dead, they are not implausible.
Transferring the life of a major political figure to film is a difficult task that is often not well done. Whatever your position on the political spectrum, you cannot dispute the accuracy of this rendition of the life of one of the transformative political figures of the twentieth century.