Saturday, January 21, 2012

"The Iron Lady" (2011) - Movie Review

The utter failure of “The Iron Lady” is due to one quintessential thing in any film requires, direction. Director Phyllida Lloyd loses that in blunder on being unsure about what to do with the screenplay by Abi Morgan. “The Iron Lady” is a spectacular waste of Meryl Streep’s breathtaking portrayal of this powerful woman. For starters it assumes that Margaret Thatcher in her old age is dealing grief with hallucinations of her dead husband Denis Thatcher. Now if it had some credibility through the means of basing it on a book and the medium taking its own version, I would have not been completely surprised but to make things out of thin air and in which it does not aid the film in any possible manner seems to be shocking in taking this route.

Meryl Streep exemplifies in saying that attention to detail does not come alone in make up to make a real life character but the mannerisms and the miniscule concentration on the way she tilts her head, gives a daunting look and the stature brings that person alive on the screen. Here she does the old Margaret Thatcher grieving for her husband played by Jim Broadbent and she is unable to cope with the reality of the condition the life cycle puts one through. She is in a dark house and anyone will be depressed out there. You do not leave an old woman there to ponder on the loneliness. Not definitely someone who had the authority and power to rule a nation with conviction now in deep need of aid to leave the house.

The film is series of flashbacks while she is desperately struggling to overcome the need for Denis to be around. She finally decides to get his things out of the house and that causes further wave of emotions. This might lead to believe that there will be some conflicting arguments and incredible support from Denis during those tough times of being the leader of the country. The director does not even shed a minute light on the struggles she would have gone through to be the lone female battling the male dominated government. And to support this woman in her journey and battle, Denis would have been the much needed supporting husband in those circumstances. The film leads that way but has Jim Broadbent playing baseless scenes as hallucinations than when he was alive.

What “The Iron Lady” also misses is the desperate and crying call for a strong supporting character. A performance to accompany Streep’s immaculate display. We see prospects as mentioned above in Jim Broadbent who of course gets wasted, then comes Airey Neave (Nicholas Farrell) who gets killed just when we get to know him and finally is Geoffrey Howe (Anthony Head) whom we do not even know the identity till he gets bullied and yelled by Thatcher. The scenes which had some flesh in it are when young Margaret (Alexandra Roach) grows up seeing her dad give great speech to inspire her and when young Denis (Harry Lloyd) asks her to marry him. That is the story I would have liked to see. Growing up to have that inspiration and then to pursue it against a society and to find a man to share that passion and get support through it. Instead as the film’s take on old and dementing Thatcher, it suffers the own peril of being unsubstantiated.

I was excited to see this film because one of my all time favourite film “The Queen” carried a strong take on a strong woman living through a life no one can ever see or understand. She fights through the authority despite her own authority on the matter. Then we see her worst side, the better side and the best too. Finally we empathize with the life she was thrust despite the wealth to grow in a sheltered world. I can see similar evolution of character in Margaret Thatcher, even more so if you ask me.

What was the intention out here? Even take the title for instance and that does not get much justice. If some angry and loud justification for the tough policies and the decisions in Falklands War she orchestrated was enough, then that is a blunder as well. The much talented and the brilliant delivery of Meryl Streep gets thrown out in a shabby arrangement of the biography. Even my beloved music director Thomas Newman cannot provide his best under the circumstances. “The Iron Lady” not alone foils the Oscar nominating and possibly winning performance of Meryl Streep but potentially set the bar on someone else recreating this tale to grave. I wish I am wrong in that front as I would very much love to see a better film on this personality.

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