Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Iron Lady

The Iron Lady, 2011
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Nominations Include: Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Makeup

Synopsis: Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister in England. This is her story, told in flashbacks  as an elderly woman, dealing with Alzheimer's. We see a recount of her life before politics, her first campaign, the trials, the triumphs, her family, and her end.

Honestly, the only reason why I wanted to see this film because I've been solidly rooting for Viola Davis to win Best Actress, and wanted to see if she really, honestly stood a chance up against Meryl.

I hate to be a real downer on this movie, but I thought it had great potential, but it was executed badly. It covered too large a range of Mrs. Thatcher's life, ranging from "last year of high school-getting into Oxford" right up until her resignation, as well as her life as a confused elderly woman, seeing visions of her long dead husband. Had the director picked a certain time in Margaret Thatcher's life, this would've been done well. For instance, we get a look at 24 year old Margaret Roberts, trying to win her way into being considered by the conservative party, meeting her husband, losing her first election, and getting engaged. These scenes I found enchanting, and the young woman playing Margaret (Alexandra Roach) was very, very good, and looked so much like Meryl Margaret. Had these scenes of her trying to become accepted as a real politician and her love life/courtship/engagement with Dennis been played out, it would've been a nice film. Or even her run for Prime Minister, with a small bit of introduction to get to know her first. Instead we got a lot of old Margaret Thatcher talking to her dead husband, her entire political lifestory, and then, finally, halfway through, she decides to run for Prime Minister.

One thing I did very much like was that the film didn't pick a side about Margaret Thatcher. They showed the good and the bad. They showed the bad choices she made, and the consequences, and they showed her triumphs and her passion. They really showed that, in the end, she did what she believed in, she didn't let herself be pushed around by someone lower than her, or someone "more intelligent", and showing both sides was admirable.

Now, to the acting. Like I mentioned previously, I thought young Margaret Thatcher was quite talented. She was authoritative enough, but also was believable. She pulled off confidence and passion very well. The home videos scenes were darling, seeing her as a mother and wife, and a happy, cheery woman. You could see both sides of this woman and I quite enjoyed her, though small her part was. Young Dennis was also dashing, and just very charming, much like Jim Broadbent, playing older Dennis Thatcher. I thought he was really, really good, and quite underrated. I'd have liked to see him up for Best Supporting Actor in the particular weak year of Supporting Actors, but alas.

And now, to Meryl. As all have said, she was great. But I must sligthly, slightly disagree. I thought was great,  but only when she was playing older Margaret. She nailed being an old, confused woman so well, it was just so believable, and I bought into it every time she was on screen. However, playing the younger version, was not as phenomenal. For a lot of it I felt she was Meryl Streep, with a British accent, dressed up as Margaret Thatcher, who had a lot of inspirational things to say. While I thought she exuded so much power, and passion, and she really was Iron, I could see Meryl in everything about it. Many times I was even seeing her portrayal of Julia Child in some things she did. Not to say her performance was bad. Not by a long shot, but she truly excelled as playing an old woman, while her other parts were great, but not amazing like I thought it would be.

Another thought, was the makeup in this film was just whatever, except for when it came to Meryl Streep's age makeup. Her aged make-up was quite phenomenal, and is done just so right. You can hardly recognize Meryl under there, but it is just so flawless. I was rooting for Harry Potter to win make-up, and while I still am, I think it just might go to this film.

Overall, I thought the film was just sort of meh. When asked how I like it, all I could respond with was a shrug. I thought it had a lot of potential to be great, but it really failed to do anything with this film. There was not a whole lot of character development being shown, which hindered the film greatly. It just covered too wide a span to have any real effect. It almost felt documentary like at some times. But overall, not a terrible film, but not a good one. I was surprised to see it was only 1 1/2 hours, after feeling like I had watched a film over 2 hours. Not bad, not good. Am I still on team Viola? Oh yes, I am.


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