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The Iron Lady

 

"The Iron Lady" tells the compelling story of Britain's first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), who smashed through the barriers of gender and class to be heard in a male-dominated world. From her first days in power, Thatcher developed and refined ways of circumventing political protocol and procedure. She served three consecutive terms in office and remains one of the dominant and controversial political figures of 20th century Britain. The story concerns power and the price that Margaret Thatcher paid for power, and is a surprising and intimate portrait of an extraordinary and complex woman.

 

Directed by:
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Cast & Characters:
Phyllida Lloyd
Abi Morgan
Damian Jones
105 minutes
December 30, 2011 (USA)
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Meryl Streep (Margaret Thatcher), Anthony Head (Geoffrey Howe), Jim Broadbent (Denis Thatcher), Olivia Colman (Carol Thatcher), Richard E. Grant (Michael Heseltine), Roger Allam (Gordon Reece), Iain Glen (Alfred Roberts), Alexandra Roach (Young Margaret Thatcher), Harry Lloyd (Young Denis Thatcher), Susan Brown (June), Julian Wadham (Francis Pym), Nick Dunning (James Prior), Victoria Bewick (Muriel Roberts)

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PRODUCTION NOTES
Casting an American to play a public figure as quintessentially British as former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was a gamble - even if that actress is Meryl Streep. "The stakes were high," admits Phyllida Lloyd, who directed the star in 2008's Mamma Mia! "It's like an English actress coming to America to play Hillary Clinton. All eyes are on you, and one slip and everyone is going to be going, 'You come over here and take our jobs...'?" No surprise that Streep rose to the occasion. "It's not an impersonation in any way - it's an incarnation," says Lloyd. The Iron Lady spans seven decades but focuses on the peak of Thatcher's power in the 1980s. Even moviegoers who don't warm to Thatcher's conservatism may find something to cheer. "As much as the film is about the roller coaster of her extraordinary political career," says Lloyd, "it's also about family and love and loss and bereavement." And, of course, one trailblazer's strict, nonnegotiable policy about wearing pearls.
It was one of those rare, rare films where I was grateful to be an actor and grateful for the privilege of being able to look at a life deeply with empathy. There’s no greater joy. I still don't agree with a lot of her policies. But I feel she believed in them and that they came from an honest conviction, and that she wasn’t a cosmetic politician just changing make-up to suit the times. She stuck to what she believed in, and that’s a hard thing to do. You want people who are willing to find a solution. I admire the fact that she was a “love-me-or-hate-me” kind of leader who said: “This is what I stand for.” It’s a hard thing to do and no one’s doing that now.
After the first early screenings in the United Kingdom, David Gritten at The Telegraph said: “Awards should be coming Streep’s way; yet her brilliance rather overshadows the film itself.” The Guardian Xan Brooks said Streep’s performance “is astonishing and all but flawless”. He added: “Yet Streep, it transpires, is the one great weapon of this often silly and suspect picture.” The Daily Mail also praised Streep’s portrayal. Critic Baz Bamigboye wrote: “Only an actress of Streep’s stature could possibly capture Thatcher’s essence and bring it to the screen. The film follows Baroness Thatcher from her early years breaking through class and gender barriers to become prime minister to her political downfall in 1990. The Thatcher era from 1979 to 1990, was a time of social and economic change for Britain. Elected following a period of widespread strikes, dubbed the winter of discontent, Lady Thatcher and her Conservative government embarked on tough reforms to tackle inflation and the trade unions. Her policies divided the country – seeing a boom in the service sector and home ownership but a decline in manufacturing and soaring unemployment.

While the film was met with mixed reviews, Meryl Streep received universal praise for her performance. She was awarded with a Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and her career's third Academy Award for playing Margaret Thatcher.
FREDERIK'S REVIEW
When I saw "The Iron Lady" for the first time, I was very disappointed. For a biopic about one of the world's most controversial politicians, there is surprisingly little about Margaret Thatcher's career and what she has done in the decades of her work. Instead, for more than half of the film we take a fictional look at the present day Thatcher, suffering from dementia and talking to the ghost of her dead husband. While the makeup and acting for the old Miss Thatcher is a class of its own, it's all fictional and I could understand the critics arguing about whether it's necessary to exploit these private issues for a film. I could respect this creative decision if the story about Margaret Thatcher's career would be worth, but unfortunately we sprint through fourty years of politics, it feels like a best of and expects certain knowledge about Miss Thatcher's actions to understand why she is either loved or hated by her citizens. Not much is explained and that's a pity. So after the first viewing, I strongly felt that this film could have been much better and that a wonderful opportunity had been wasted. My opinion on the film has shifted a bit by watching it a second time. If you get past the disappointment that the biographical aspect of the film is one mess of bad editing. But the present day scenes are all the more moving because we see a demented woman who suffers of letting her thoughts and memories of her beloved husband go, to stay on her own. Besides Streep, only two actors have pivotal roles - Jim Broadbent and the wonderful Olivia Colman, and they're both superb in their performances as well. Speaking of performances, the film is a testament that acting awards should be about the role, not the overall film. Meryl's performance as Margaret Thatcher is brilliant, she proves once again that she's still able to totally immerse into a character with empathy and incredible talent. "The Iron Lady" deserves the two Academy Awards it has won, for Best Makeup and Best Actress, certainly the two best things about this film.
LINKS & RESEARCH
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS FOR MERYL STREEP
Win - Academy Award as Best Actress in a Leading Role
Win - BAFTA Award as Best Actress
Win - Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Drama
Win - New York Film Critics Circle Award as Best Actress
Win - London Critics Circle Film Awards as Actress of the Year
Win - Australian Academy Of Cinema & Television Arts Award as International Actress
Win - Denver Film Critics Society Award as Best Actress
Win - Southeastern Film Critics Association Award as Best Actress
Win - Richard Attenborough Regional Film Award as Best Actress
Win - Dorian Award as Film Performance of the Year
Nomination - Screen Actors Guild Award as Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor
Nomination - Women in Film Critics Circle Award as Best Actress
Nomination - Irish Film and Television Award as Best International Actress
Nomination - Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts as Best International Actress
Nomination - Central Ohio Film Critics Award as Best Actress
Nomination - Chicago Film Critics Award as Best Actress
Nomination - Detroit Film Critics Society Award as Best Actress
Nomination - Houston Film Critics Society Award as Best Actress
Nomination - Iowa Film Critics as Best Actress
Nomination - Phoenix Film Critics Award as Best Actress
Nomination - St Louis Film Critics Award as Best Actress
Nomination - Vancouver Film Critics Award as Best Actress
Nomination - Washington DC Area Film Critics as Best Actress
Nomination - Satellite Award as Best Actress