What more can you say about Meryl Streep other than – as my lovely wife so clearly stated – she may be the greatest actress of all time? It’s true. In “Julie & Julia” she was stupendous as Julia Childs. In “The Devil Wears Prada” she just ate up the screen. In “Death Becomes Her” she was hysterical and campy. In “The Bridges of Madison County” she was dazzling with such a subtle accent that it was absolutely amazing (I myself doubted her casting; something I will never do again.). And as someone pointed out the other day, she was a stand-out even way back in “The Deer Hunter” (a film dominated by the some super male heavyweights). The woman has range, depth, and an uncanny ability to BECOME the role she is playing.
“The Iron Lady” is the biopic tale of the 1st female Prime Minister of England, Margaret Thatcher. It is told in retrospective, which is always a pleasant way to tell the tale of someone’s life. It chronicles her rise to political power and intersperses real news footage of those turbulent times, including the Brixton Riots, the Miners Strike, the bombing of the Grand Hotel (which nearly killed her), and of course the Falkland Island crisis. The flashbacks of her life are made complete and contrasted in the present with her confusion regarding the loss of her husband Dennis, played by the likeable Jim Broadbent. The entire story is kind of sad and melancholy. It presents us with a woman that changed world history and lead her nation into an economic boom that has echoed over the decades since. Margaret Thatcher was a tough woman, and an admirable leader through some of England’s more modern struggles.
That’s my summation of the film. Yet the real heart of the film has to do with seeing Margaret as an elderly woman struggling with dementia. Streep’s portrayal of this age of Thatcher is stunning and heart-breaking. Her transformation into the elderly Thatcher is SO great that I had to wonder if that wasn’t the REAL Margaret Thatcher! She blurs the line so amazingly that I no longer saw Streep – just Thatcher. Streep guides us through flashbacks with grace and an ease, but she doesn’t stun. When she really shines is when she gets to be Thatcher as an older woman (Prime Minister and on). She provides such warmth to the character and her portrayal of her dementia is so delicate and sensitive that you can’t help but sympathize with her.
“The Iron Lady” is a rewarding film to see. As a child of the ‘80s, it was kind of nostalgic film too with all of those flashbacks. I forgot about her friend getting assassinated and just how drawn out the Falkland Island Crisis was. In a way, this was a really interesting “return to the ‘80s” because it wasn’t involving movies, fashions, music, music videos, or TV shows. Still though, I am stunned by the talent that Streep shows time and time again. She deserved the Oscar, without question!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.