The Iron Lady Review

I consider myself quite a smart(ish) man when it comes to some things, but get talking to me about politics, government or policies, and my mind will drift to replaying Family Guy or Steve Martin clips in my head. Not my strong suit then, but I found myself drawn to The Iron Lady, mainly because of my huge respect and adoration of Meryl Streep, who simply put, is the very definition of "otherworldly."

I remember reading once that Streep was just that good, that she could have played Batman, and no-one would "bat" an eyelid. In this bravura performance, coupled with so many that have gone before it, I'd be surprised if she wasn't also considered to play herself in a future biopic chronicling what is a stupendous career. She has never been one to shy away from a challenge, and The Iron Lady is no different. As Margaret Thatcher, it is probably the biggest of her career, playing a woman who fought desperately to share her voice in a male populated government, but whose determination and perseverance, made her the longest serving Prime Minister in the UK.

The film itself, directed by Mamma Mia cohort Phyllida Lloyd, shows many of Thatcher's famous moments, as an ageing Thatcher battles illness in present day, and through a series of flashbacks, chronicles her battle to get into the Conservative Party at 24, through her appointment as Minister, and subsequent defining moments during the Falklands war, before her resignation in 1990.

The Iron Lady strangely reminded me of another biopic, Man on the Moon, the Jim Carrey-Andy Kaufman biopic from 1999. Different characters, settings and stories of course, but both have the similarity in being somewhat scared to delve just that little bit deeper into the mind of its protagonist, only showing the surface of the character, rather than anything that would be seen as scandalous or cause offence. Of course the storytelling has to go hand-in-hand somewhat with commerciality and accessibility, but it would have been nice to have seen the filmmakers, and screenwriter Abi Morgan, be a little braver with their choices.

Director Lloyd handles proceedings decently, but it too often feels like an extended TV drama rather than a feature, at times feeling dreary and a little underwhelming. Still, she shows some nice flashes during the Commons scene, with each playing out as more of a frenetic action set-piece, which added some much welcome tension.

But this is Streep's movie, and she is every bit the Oscar winner here. Magnetic, poised and elegant in equal measure, it is another truly classy performance from the globe's best living actress. She breathes Thatcher, bringing her to life in ways that makes you want to stand and applaud every word, every fist shake, as she goes from dreamer to leader. Supported by great turns from the always reliable Jim Broadbent as husband Denis, and Olivia Colman as daughter Carol, as well as cameo turns from Anthony Head and Richard E. Grant, the whole cast is excellent throughout, and elevate the film with their dashes of class.

Slow in places, absorbing in others, The Iron Lady is another defining moment in Meryl Streep's career, and is a performance worthy of 105 minutes of your time alone.

The Disc

The video is presented in 2.35:1 and is a well rounded transfer. The colour palette is well represented throughout, although with the stark cinematography from Elliot David, some of the darker colours, particularly blacks and greys, do look a little too dark, some blotches. That said, the transfer is still crisp and clear, everything from the luminous greens of the House of Commons, to Streep's soft facial palette. Sound fares better in the stakes, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio well presented throughout. The hustle and bustle of London beautifully preserved, as well as the football crowd-esque loudness of the House of Commons, and composer Thomas Newman's subtle score.

Extras wise, there are a host of short featurettes that go through the various processes of the film, from Streep's make-up, to shooting and recreating the Commons and Downing Street. Also included are two trailers for the film, and an interview with John Campbell, author of the book on which the film is based.

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