Script sells Streep short

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - LEIGH PAATSCH


Di­rec­tor: Phyl­l­ida Lloyd ( Mamma Mia!) Stars: Meryl Streep, Jim Broad­bent, Olivia Col­man, Iain Glen, Alexan­dra Roach

Streep is all met­tle, the rest a bit rusty

THE open­ing scene of The Iron Lady shows a frail old wo­man tot­ter­ing down a busy Lon­don street. She is on her way to buy a car­ton of milk at a con­ve­nience store.

You can tell this is an epic trek of con­sid­er­able sig­nif­i­cance to her – dou­bly so when it comes time to com­plete the pur­chase.

It is as if she has jour­neyed to an­other planet, and is none too im­pressed with what she sees. Or, for that mat­ter, with the high price of milk these days.

With just a faint tone of bel­liger­ence, the biddy ex­presses her feel­ings on the mat­ter – much to the baf­fle­ment of all in the store – and starts the long shuf­fle home.

The year is 2005. The wo­man’s name is Mar­garet Thatcher. Less than two decades ear­lier, she was one of the most pow­er­ful and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in the free world.

With the ma­jor movie awards sea­son just around the cor­ner, The Iron Lady has po­si­tioned it­self as the Bri­tish biopic of choice for dis­cern­ing vot­ers.

This mod­er­ately en­gag­ing af­fair will not, how­ever, be an­other King’s Speech, no mat­ter how kindly you look upon it.

In fact, all this rather timid por­trait of an un­equiv­o­cally di­vi­sive fig­ure re­ally gives us is yet an­other chance to mar­vel at the supreme act­ing skills of the in­com­pa­ra­ble Meryl Streep.

A lazy screen­play cov­ers Thatcher’s life with sweep­ing gen­er­al­i­sa­tions and rushed run- throughs.

The Falk­lands War, for in­stance, is over in about the same time as it takes Mag­gie to buy milk.

It is left to Streep to pick up the slack as only she can.

As we have come to ex­pect, she ef­fort­lessly walks through the walls of sev­eral creative lim­i­ta­tions which should have im­peded her per­for­mance.

Not a sin­gle as­pect of Thatcher’s for­mi­da­bly com­plex per­sona is missed by Streep. While her phys­i­cal im­pres­sion of the Bri­tish PM in her blue- bloused prime is bang on the money, it is the way in which she cap­tures Thatcher’s un­shake­able in­ner cer­tainty that re­ally pays off in The Iron Lady ’ s favour.

It was once said that Thatcher’s en­try to a room ‘‘ could cause fur­ni­ture to straighten it­self’’. Streep nails the pres­ence of the wo­man as well.

And as for Streep’s han­dling of the Thatcher voice – an im­pe­ri­ously em­phatic in­stru­ment that made small talk about the weather sound like a de­fi­ant ad­dress to the United Na­tions – the like­ness is so ex­act it is in­tim­i­dat­ing.

Over­all, this is such a fine per­for­mance it could be ar­gued it is wasted in a movie with so lit­tle to say about Thatcher’s un­prece­dented – and con­tro­ver­sial – ca­reer achieve­ments.

Now show­ing Vil­lage and State cine­mas

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