The director of Mamma Mia! brings you this rather unremarkable, but easy-to-watch biopic of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep who is guaranteed an Oscar nomination). The film begins in the present with an elderly Thatcher shopping for milk. She’s on the verge of senility, a condition seemingly brought about by old age and a tumultuous life, and thus she spends her time speaking to the ghost of her dead husband/political mentor Denis (Jim Broadbent). Her rise is tidily charted through flashbacks often triggered by the dismal surroundings of her home: a grocer’s daughter spends her free time studying, receives an education at Oxford, becomes a member of the “madhouse” that is Parliament, ascends to the rank of Prime Minister despite her gender and background. The film touches upon the highlights of the era (the union strikes, the INLA, the Falklands War), but is most concerned with the outward strength and hidden hesitancies of the powerful woman who has no patience for incompetence or disloyalty. The events that led to the conservative party’s power shift and the end of Thatcher’s eleven and a half year reign are suitably rushed as they really weren’t very exciting and her character arc is wrapped up in the present with the delayed acceptance of her husband’s death. The whole affair is exactly what you’re expecting.
The Iron Lady opens today at the Ritz Five.