The Iron Lady :
Survival of the fittest
Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher
Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady frames the life of British political
icon Margaret Thatcher’s life in a series of flashbacks from
contemporary life. It depicts the decline of an elderly widow as well as
the rise and fall of a politician.
Thatcher went down in history as the first female prime minister in
European history, following the steps of Sri Lanka’s Sirimavo
Bandaranaike and India’s Indira Gandhi. That itself is a feather on her
cap and one that she looks on with pride.
Thatcher’s main plus point is her ability to convince others. Though
she herself does not believe that she will be elected to lead the
country, her unwavering will power goes beyond family bondages and
duties. She introduces conservative policies to the government which
later becomes known as Thatcherism.
Meryl Streep is convincing as the conservative politician. From the
moment she makes it to the scene as the confused and aging Thatcher, she
holds our attention till the end. She displays the knack of changing
minds and bringing on the cheers effortlessly. The irony of this is that
though the society on the reel adorns her and is carried away by her
energy, the observant spectator sees the underlining rigid ignorance of
her policies in just the right moments. Such instances are seen in her
speeches made to slash public spending and sending troops to die in the
Falklands War. Though this is the case in most instances, Streep’s
Thatcher impresses us by towering above all and blocking out other
voices except her own. This certainly deserved the Best Actress award
that she walked away with at this year’s Oscars.
Other characters who stand out are Jim Broadbent as Thatcher’s
deceased husband, Denis, and Alexandra Roach as young Margaret Thatcher.
They too deliver good performances but are only given a few minutes of
Another plus point is how Lloyd had used objects instead of words and
human facial expressions to drive home the message.
One such instance is in displaying Thatcher’s pair of heels amid
countless wingtips and the blue-clad figure of the woman shoving her way
through a sea of black coated males.
The film does have its share of drawbacks. It stretches on and is
somewhat confusing at times on whether Thatcher is actually moving into
real life scenes or undergoing hallucinations.
It also comprises a few scenes which seem unnecessarily inserted into
the story. One such instance is the home video that Thatcher watches of
a family holiday. The continuous hallucinations she has of her late
husband too seems overdone.
Alexandra Roach as the younger version of Thatcher
Such scenes only lengthen the movie without adding to the facts that
we already know. It merely glides through some of the milestones of the
protagonist’s life rather than analyze whether she makes correct
judgments or errors.
This has its plus points because delving too much on politics can be
tedious to the audience but the drawback is that it tends to merely
touch upon certain incidents where the director could have delivered an
extra punch to the storyline.
Director Lloyd had taken a complete different path in The Iron Lady
to that of her first movie, the musically entertaining Mamma Mia!.
Though both movies have only Streep as the protagonist, they are poles
apart in themes and essence - the latter being more of a lively musical
with a story inserted to flow along with the songs while the former
embodies a serious attitude and is based on real life incidents and
The Iron Lady is a fascinating portrait of the aggressively
determined woman struggling to make it in a field which was once
considered as a man’s zone.
It is a surprisingly fair picture for it traces Thatcher’s humble
upbringing as a daughter of a politically active grocer. In this light
The Iron Lady shows us the humane side of the lady who changed the
course of history with her noble pride, purpose and humane shortcomings.