Script sells Streep short
THE IRON LADY ( M)
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