Meryl Streep gives another winning performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

Meryl Streep gives another winning performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

Reel Reviews: History will never forget even if film does

Meryl Streep delivers a stirring portrait of the former British prime minister in The Iron Lady. Too bad the film skips important history.

  • Mar. 4, 2012 11:00 a.m.

Margaret Thatcher has dementia, this much is true. Through that dementia, in the form of disjointed and confused memories, comes the tale of The Iron Lady.

Near the beginning of the film, this problem becomes clear by way of the audience discovering who is real, who is a memory, who is a hallucination and we, like Thatcher, must face some sad truths. However, what isn’t clear, is whether or not this point of view creates an accurate portrayal of the truth.

Perhaps this veil was a goal of the film, perhaps the truth doesn’t matter. Perhaps we think too much…

We say, “See it if historical fact isn’t a concern.”

TAYLOR: This film is good, but it tries too hard to make Maggie a likeable heroine. I like the non-linear, partisan story format, but this is a great film about dementia and only a good film about Maggie.

HOWE: It seems we are given only snatches, mere moments of time, that try to sum up Maggie’s time in power. One example early on is the men didn’t take her seriously. She’s MP for Finchley riding, then runs for leader of the party, then she becomes prime minister. How did that happen? Nothing is explained. Thatcher changed so much that isn’t even mentioned.

TAYLOR: It seemed as if the writer and director decided they could humanize the character of Maggie by way of having the story told in her own mind. Then they wouldn’t have to cast Maggie in the light she earned. Unfortunately, the film suffers because they turned Maggie’s personality into the result of her public life, rather than the other way around.

HOWE: Two huge figures from the ‘80s weren’t even mentioned, Arthur Scargill, leader of the National Union of Coalminers. I am totally amazed that Maggie’s nemesis is missing, Neil Kinnock, who was leader of the Labour party for nine years.

TAYLOR: The film is good, it stands alone as an interesting film, you’re drawn into the story, but it tries too hard. Even the music indicates that this is supposed to be an epic. It could have been, but it isn’t. They should have shown more political action and less drinking whiskey in the attic.

HOWE: How can they stuff over 10 years of political power into an hour and a half movie? They can’t. It should have been longer, focusing more intently on the points the movie made: the strikes, the riots, the Falkland war. This film misses the mark.

TAYLOR: The two Oscars this film won are deserved. Meryl Streep’s transformation into Maggie was excellent, as was her Academy Award winning makeup. But again, this is just a good film in which Margaret Thatcher happens to be the main character.

Howe gives The Iron Lady 2.5 ex-prime ministers out of 5.

Taylor gives it 3 crooked teeth out of 5.

The Iron Lady is playing at the Vernon Towne Cinema.

NOTE: If you want to see the big winner at this year’s Oscars, don’t miss The Artist, currently playing at the Galaxy Cinemas.

–– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe review the latest films in Reel Reviews every Friday and Sunday.