The Iron Lady - quick review

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Patrick Sun, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Meryl Streep pulls off yet another impressive role of Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female prime minister, and steers her country through some tough times in the 1980s. The film's script is carried through Margaret's own bouts with dementia in present day, with the presence of her husband (Jim Broadbent) prodding her along, while also providing comfort of everyday normalcy, while being dead for years. The film fades in and out of Margaret's recollection of her younger years as a burgeoning political leader, through her years to party leadership, and finally as prime minister. The make-up for Streep as Thatcher through her younger years, to her older year is amazingly well-done, much moreso than the effort in "J. Edgar". Streep is a shoe-in for yet another Oscar nomination for Best Actress, quite a strong effort, but it's probably Glenn Close's year for the golden statue. In the end, the script is the weakest part of the film, and does feel like Oscar-bait. I give it 2.75 stars or a grade of B- (almost gave it a C+.).
     
  2. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Without straying to far from the rules of the forum, let's just say that Thatcher is a very very divisive figure in the UK and to make a film about her that largely ignores the impact her policies had on the country (whether you think those policies were good or bad) kind of seems to be missing the point. The fact that she was the first female prime minister is the least of the things she is remembered for in the UK. That said Streep's performance is uncanny how she nails Thatcher's mannerisms and voice.
     
  3. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I just got back from seeing this and being the only one in there was pretty shocking considering how new the movie was. With that said..... 1. Streep is excellent. 2. The movie is horrid. I don't know too much about the actual woman but I think I know less after this movie. I'm really not sure how much they had to work with but if this is the only bits of "story" they could dig up on her then it's best to not have any movie at all. The majority of the running time has her having hallucinations about her dead husband and I can't figure out what they were trying to do here. I found the film incredibly dull, lifeless and I was checking my watch at least six times. This script wasn't even made-for-TV quality. Take away Streep and you're left with one of the worst movies of the year. ** (out of 4) but very disappointing.
     
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    The trailer for this movie was one of the most inadvertantly funny things I've seen in a long time. It opens with a POV shot with two guys giving campaign style advice to someone for a long time (for a trailer anyway) and then they reveal they're talking to... Margaret Thatcher! That might work in the UK where people would recognize Thatcher but in America, not enough people remember or care about Great Britain's Prime Minister from more than twenty years ago to have that reveal be anything other than confusing to the vast majority of the audience. I literally heard someone say "Who's that?" one time that I saw it.
     
  5. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    I often find Patrick to be too a little too hard on films, but in this case, he has been far too forgiving. Michael's review is spot on. This film is dreadful.


    No matter what one thinks of Ms. Thatcher and her actions as PM, you can't deny that there has to be an interesting story in her rise to power and in her time leading her government. Yet what we get here is pretty much half of the film's running time spent watching a 90-year old woman puttering about her flat while sliding into dementia. It doesn't matter whether these scenes are accurate or not (and I don't see how they can be anything but speculation), what matters is that they're boring.


    I kept waiting for this film to leave the old biddy behind and get into Thatcher's actual life. But all the writer gives us is 5 minute snippets of her "greatest hits" punctuated by more pointless scenes of her supposed present-day life. We see Ms. Thatcher get elected to Parliament and some of her first day there. The next time we flashback over a decade has passed and she's on the front bench as Education secretary. How did that happen? Surely there's a compelling story in this young woman's rise to power in the boys' club of British politics? And here's what we see of her 10+ years as PM:

    • A brief overview of her first campaign as Conservative leader and her first day at 10 Downing.
    • A few minutes of the unrest and riots that occurred as her government cut services to the bone.
    • A couple of minutes dealing with the bombing of the Grand Hotel that she survived.
    • The Falklands. This is the longest look we get at Maggie as PM - we get almost 10 minutes here.
    • A brief look at her fall from power.

    That's 20-25 minutes tops to cover the time in office of one of the most important and influential leaders of the latter half of the 20th Century. Ridiculous.

    The incompetence on display goes beyond just the script. The direction is feeble and uninspired, and the cinematography follows suit. As Patrick rightly pointed out, only the old-age makeup for Ms. Streep stands out as a high level of film craft - other than the film's star, of course. Streep is, as almost always, brilliant. But it is brilliance in service of nothing. I am hoping she does NOT win the Oscar, if only because she should have known better than to sign onto this script.


    Take the basic idea of Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, give it to a good historical screenwriter like Peter Morgan (The Queen) and any of a large number of competent directors - it makes one weep to think of what could have been done with this material. As it is what we have in The Iron Lady is, sadly, one of the worst films of the year.
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    In retrospect, I probably was too lenient on this film. I'll mull over a grade change.
     
  7. SilverWook

    SilverWook Cinematographer

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    The under 30 crowd isn't exactly the target audience for this anyway. ;) I'm in my 40's, and I know who Churchill was. It pays to stay awake in history class, no matter what side of the pond you're on.
     
  8. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    ^ I'm hardly an authority on history but I know enough to know who Margaret Thatcher was but I just found it an amusingly bizarre trailer. I would imagine that even a fairly non-stupid US citizen who was an adult during Thatcher's time has pretty much forgotten about her and the reveal in the trailer would be meaningless.
     
  9. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    It's funny but I was thinking the same thing today. It's probably closer to a :star::half: but I gave it some extra credit simply for Streep's performance. While talking to my co-workers about the film today I realized that I was bashing every single aspect of the film and I actually grew angry with how bad I thought it was. I'm guessing Streep is the front runner for the Best Actress Oscar but it's a shame that such a bad movie might get more attention. As great as she was I really do have to question whether or not the film needs or deserves any more attention.
     
  10. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    I was growing angrier and angrier as I watched the film. That hasn't happened in a long time for me, that a movie has pissed me off (I do try to avoid obviously bad movies). What a wasted opportunity.


    I'm on Team Viola, or Team Michelle, or Team Glenn, or Team Tilda - whoever can keep an Best Actress Oscar from going to this film. Meryl already has two and will undoubtedly have many more chances in better films.
     

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