The Westerner

The Iron Lady

Monday, 26 December 2011

Source: Casey Logan

When you think about it, going to the movies is an odd experience. We pay top dollar to see the best music concerts and theatre productions, and the same goes for dining in restaurants or buying a home or a car.

Yet when it comes to visits to the multiplex, us movie lovers still pay the same dollar amount to witness cinematic genius as we do to, hopefully unwittingly, endure filmic trash.

What has prompted my rambling that “not all movie experiences are equal?” The woman who is arguably the finest female actor of our time. Meryl Streep.

Watching Streep portray former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady is such a privilege that you feel like you’ve cheated the ticket booth attendant by paying the same amount that you would pay to see a one-star movie.

A master of portraying real-life characters – recall her roles in films such as Evil Angels, Out of Africa and Julie and Julia – Streep is one of the best ‘chameleon’ actors in the business. It only takes one scene in The Iron Lady for Streep to dazzle her audience.

Much like the first glimpse of Bruno Ganz as an aging Adolph Hitler in the brilliant German film Downfall left me awestruck, I was similarly amazed when Streep first appeared on the big screen as an elderly Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

The anticipated adulation for Streep’s performance is completely warranted. Oscar nominations should be express post delivered to both her and Daniel Day-Lewis whenever it is announced they are filming a new movie.

Streep perfectly replicates Thatcher’s mannerisms and accent, but hers isn’t the only fine performance here. While she usually commands attention virtually every time she’s on screen in any film, whether it’s heavy drama or comedies such as The Devil Wears Prada or It’s Complicated, Jim Broadbent is just as memorable in this film.

Best known for her role on the BBC comedy series Peep Show, Olivia Colman is also great as Thatcher’s daughter, Carol.

As with any good biopic, only a vague knowledge of the subject matter is necessary to enjoy the film. Those with a more intimate knowledge of Thatcher and her controversial acts as the British PM could be left disappointed by The Iron Lady.

The movie skips large chunks of her life in political office, with many of the trials of tribulations of her time as the leader of Britain skimmed over, seemingly for the sake of limiting the movie’s running time.

Unlike her hard line approach to politics, The Iron Lady adopts a softer touch in telling Thatcher’s story, told through flashbacks.

With the movie funnier than it probably should be, thanks largely to Broadbent as Thatcher’s husband Denis, it appears the filmmakers tried to bring an empathetic angle to a lady that is viewed by many Brits as being greatly unsympathetic.

Regardless, this documentation of Thatcher’s rise to power, and subsequent fall from grace, gets my vote, based on Streep’s superb mimicry alone.



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