I had my doubts about this biopic about controversial British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. For one, I suspected the film industry's liberal bent would equal outright vilification of Thatcher rather than creating an honest and balanced portrait, and for another, as great as Meryl Streep is, something about the trailers led me to believe she was laying it all on a little thick here.
It turned out that neither concern was an issue. It's actually a sympathetic and largely positive portrayal of the first female PM in British history and Streep gives a typically Streepian performance, though I wouldn't have handed her the Oscar for it.
The trouble with this film, written by Abi Morgan ("The Hour") and directed by Phyllida Lloyd ("Mamma Mia!") is its indecisiveness. The filmmakers couldn't make up their minds about what "The Iron Lady" should be. One hour and 45 minutes, much of it dedicated to the present where Thatcher is suffering from dementia, is hardly enough to cover her entire life. Yet that is what they attempt to do.
This really should have been a mini-series or a film focused purely on a single period of her life. A one hour 45 minute film purely about Thatcher and the Falklands could have been riveting and actually more revealing than what we get here.
In the end, "The Iron Lady" feels like an overview. We don't really truly get to see what affect her 11 years in office had on Britain and the world, for good or ill, and we only really get a cursory examination of the woman herself. It's worth seeing for those interested but it is disappointing.
"The Iron Lady" also stars Jim Broadbent as her husband Dennis, along with Olivia Colman ("Hot Fuzz") and Richard E. Grant ("Withnail and I"). 6/10.