Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Written by: Abi Morgan
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Alexandra Roach, Harry Lloyd, Richard E. Grant, Roger Allam, Julian Wadham.
Running time: 105 min.
The Avengers is receiving a lot of buzz lately, but what about all the films that came before it? Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Iron Man 2...I've seen them all. Somehow, after all this time, Meryl Streep's entry into the saga, The Iron Lady totally slipped my attention. After seeing it, I realise how it fit in: it is an interesting prequel to Iron Man, as Meryl Streep plays a woman who could very well be Iron Man's mother. It could also work as a sequel to Captain America, where we find out what really happened to Steve Rogers after he crashed, and his brain was taken over by Alzheimer's which is why he didn't know that he was asleep for so long. And it totally fits in with Thor, because it used as many crooked angle shots as Kenneth Branagh did with his tale of the Norse God. So I'm shocked to see that Meryl isn't on the poster for The Avengers. Oh...wait. She plays a real life person who was the opposite of a superhero. I never would have guessed from the film.
The difference between the interesting Thatcher and the old Thatcher storylines makes for some really odd pacing, too. We are rushed through Thatcher's youth (which was interesting), then through Thatcher's early political career (which was interesting), which without a lot of fuss turns into her being prime minister. She was prime minister for 11 years, but according to the movie, she was only prime minister for 30 seconds. People hated her, but why? Because her favourite colour was blue? The movie never gave a good answer. The end of her career is a tad more capitalised, which is probably due to the fact that she's getting older. However, when Alzheimer's was attackin' everything moved so slow. It was like a portion of our taxes goes towards the 'Meryl Streep fund' where we're obligated to watch her do mundane tasks like make a cup of tea or sort out her clothes. If I had to pay taxes towards Streep's existence, that would be fine, but I'd rather watch her singing ABBA songs than waddling around. Still, her performance is uniformly brilliant. Not once did I ever think "oh, that's Meryl Streep." She was my idea of Margaret Thatcher. Yet, I don't know whether that Oscar win was entirely justified. I know that Rooney Mara wasn't going to win anyway, but I would still pick that one as my favourite performance of all the nominees.
Let's just say this movie is like a mouse trying to attack a cat. The mouse is too small, and too weak to attack that cat. This film promises big things, but never follows through with them. Instead of telling the story of Margaret Thatcher, it makes a half-assed attempt at making you sympathise with her by manipulating you with the story of her decline due to Alzheimer's. It is like the mouse is trying to emotionally blackmail the cat into not eating him. The thing is, the mouse never wins. This movie never wins. It has an amazing performance from Meryl Streep (along with Broadbent and Olivia Colman), it wants to tell an interesting story, it is generally well made and the makeup is really good. But even with all of that, the cat won't hesitate to eat that mouse. It should have been bigger and better, which is what lets the film get eaten, so to speak.
Yet, if we just take a step back and think of this film as part of The Avengers, everything seems somewhat better. Because then it would have had it's way and wouldn't have had to pretend to be a Margaret Thatcher biopic. And those crooked angle shots may have been justified.
What I got: