FILM REVIEW: The Golden Lady

The Iron Lady may prove to be golden for Meryl Streep come Oscar time

Meryl Streep as Maggie Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

Meryl Streep as Maggie Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

It seems likely that The Iron Lady will prove golden for Meryl Streep come Oscar time, as the venerable American actress has delivered a tour de force performance as Maggie Thatcher, Britain’s first (and only) female prime minister.

A right-wing lightning rod for dissent who notoriously savaged Britain’s militant trade unions in the ’70s, narrowly escaped assassination via an IRA bomb, and sacrificed a lot of “blood and treasure” going to war against Argentina over a few specks of dirt known as the Falkland Islands, Thatcher was a conservative true believer who always put principle above political expediency. She renewed Britain’s economy, but at a terrible cost to literally millions of ordinary workers. And to those who think that politics should be pragmatic, Thatcher’s ferocious hewing to her core beliefs seemed heartless and destructive. So, was she just Attila the Hun in pearls and a pantsuit?

In The Iron Lady, about a third of the film takes place in the present day, as a mildly demented Thatcher putters about her house having imaginary conversations with long-dead husband (Jim Broadbent) while being fussed over by a care aid. The film is a complex series of flashbacks that, in non-chronological order, show her as a girl out of step with her classmates, as a young woman with a keen interest in politics, her romance with Denis Thatcher, and her shinny up the greasy pole of political power.

Her 10 years on the world stage are necessarily reduced to a few key events such as the Falklands War and the toppling of the Berlin Wall, but it’s enough to get a sense of the inner person and the forces that drove her. Persons with a keen – or keenly partisan – interest in politics will doubtless argue about the emphasis and interpretation of how she and her record are treated. But as a film, this standard-issue biography seems an even-handed portrait of a compelling woman who is brought fully to life via a superb performance. M


The Iron Lady ★ ★ ★

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd

Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent

PG-13 – 105 minutes

Continues at The Odeon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tomo Vranjes, a Greater Victoria musician and longtime fan of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, joins artist Paul Archer behind the latter’s Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats have made him many connections in recent years, painted a likeness of Van Halen following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria artist’s king-sized tribute to Eddie Van Halen draws on personal connection

Paul Archer had an up close and personal day with the legendary guitarist in 1980

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Bard to Broadway Theatre Society may stage shows outdoors next summer. (PQB News photo file)
Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway group may stage shows outdoors

Theatre society plans smaller productions due to ongoing pandemic

A new short film festival called MORVENFEST is encouraging B.C. secondary students to step into the world of film during their Christmas break. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
New film festival gives Victoria students exciting opportunity

MORVENFEST is open to all B.C. secondary students over Christmas break

Port Alberni author Diane Dobson has put together a collection of childhood memories, with proceeds going towards the Ty Watson House. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni writer looks through the eyes of a child

Book raises funds for the Alberni Valley Hospice Society

The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach has temporarily closed its doors to the public as of Nov.18. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: The Old Schoolhouse Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach closes until 2021

TOSH takes proactive approach to ‘protect the well-being of the community’

Edie Daponte and Joey Smith share the stage Saturday at the Sid Williams Theatre. The show is also being livestreamed. Photo supplied
Edie Daponte brings show up-Island

Second World War tribute live and livestreamed in Courtenay and Campbell River

Most Read