The Iron Lady (film)
|The Iron Lady|
British cinema poster
|Directed by||Phyllida Lloyd|
|Produced by||Damian Jones|
|Written by||Abi Morgan|
Richard E. Grant
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Editing by||Justin Wright|
UK Film Council
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox (UK)
The Weinstein Company (US)
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Box office||$114,943,631 |
The Iron Lady is a 2011 British biographical film based on the life of Margaret Thatcher (1925–2013), the longest-serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979–1990) of the 20th century. The film was directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Thatcher is portrayed primarily by Meryl Streep, but also, in her formative and early political years, by Alexandra Roach. Thatcher's husband, Denis Thatcher, is portrayed by Jim Broadbent, and Thatcher's longest-serving cabinet member and eventual deputy, Geoffrey Howe, is portrayed by Anthony Head.
While the film was met with mixed reviews, Streep's performance was widely acclaimed, and considered to be one of the finest of her career. She received her 17th Academy Award nomination and ultimately the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Thatcher across four decades. She also earned her third Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama (eighth overall), and her second BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
The film begins circa 2008 (opening against the backdrop of news of the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing) with an elderly Lady Thatcher buying milk unrecognized by other customers and walking back from the shop alone. Over the course of three days we see her struggle with dementia and with the lack of power that comes with old age, while looking back on defining moments of her personal and professional life, on which she reminisces with her (now-dead) husband, Denis Thatcher, whose death she is unable to fully accept. She is shown as having difficulty distinguishing between the past and present. A theme throughout the film is the personal price that Thatcher has paid for power. Denis is portrayed as somewhat ambivalent about his wife's rise to power, her son Mark lives in South Africa and is shown as having little contact with his mother, and Thatcher's relationship with her daughter Carol is at times strained.
In flashback we are shown Thatcher's youth, working in the family grocery store in Grantham, listening to the political speeches of her father, whom she idolised – it is also hinted that she had a poor relationship with her mother, a housewife – and announcing that she has won a place at the University of Oxford. She remembers her struggle, as a young lower-middle class woman, to break into a snobbish male-dominated Tory party and find a seat in the House of Commons, along with businessman Denis Thatcher's marriage proposal to her. Her struggles to fit in as a "Lady Member" of the House, and as Education Secretary in Edward Heath's cabinet are also shown, as are her friendship with Airey Neave (later assassinated by the Irish National Liberation Army), her decision to stand for Leader of the Conservative Party and eventual victory, and her voice coaching and image change.
Further flashbacks examine historical events during her time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after winning the 1979 general election including the rising unemployment related to her monetarist policies and the tight 1981 budget (over the misgivings of "wet" members of her Cabinet – Ian Gilmour, Francis Pym, Michael Heseltine, and Jim Prior), the 1981 Brixton riot, the 1984–1985 UK miners' strike and the bombing in Brighton of the Grand Hotel during the 1984 Conservative Party Conference, when she and Denis were almost killed. We also see (slightly out of chronological sequence) her decision to retake the Falkland Islands following the islands' invasion by Argentina in 1982, the sinking of the ARA General Belgrano and Britain's subsequent victory in the Falklands War, her friendship with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and emergence as a world figure, and the economic boom of the late 1980s.
By 1990, Thatcher is shown as an imperious but aging figure, ranting aggressively at her cabinet, refusing to accept that the Community Charge (the "Poll Tax") is regarded as unjust, and fiercely opposed to European Integration. It is followed by the riots made in protest of the Community Charge. Her deputy Geoffrey Howe resigns after being humiliated by her in a cabinet meeting, Heseltine challenges her for the party leadership and her loss of support from her cabinet colleagues leaves her little choice but to reluctantly resign as Prime Minister after 11 years in office. A red-eyed Margaret left 10 Downing Street for the last time as Prime Minister with Denis comforting her. She is shown as still disheartened about almost twenty years later.
Eventually, Thatcher is shown packing up her late husband's belongings, and telling him it's time for him to go. Denis's ghost leaves her as she cries that she actually is not yet ready to lose him, to which he replies "You're going to be fine on your own... you always have been" before leaving forever. She is finally shown in her kitchen, alone, contently washing a teacup, having finally overcome her grief.
- Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher
- Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher
- Harry Lloyd as young Denis
- Iain Glen as Alfred Roberts
- Olivia Colman as Carol Thatcher
- Anthony Head as Geoffrey Howe
- Nicholas Farrell as Airey Neave
- Richard E. Grant as Michael Heseltine
- Susan Brown as June - Margaret Thatcher's live-in carer
- Martin Wimbush as Mark Carlisle
- Paul Bentley as Douglas Hurd
- Robin Kermode as John Major
- John Sessions as Edward Heath
- Roger Allam as Gordon Reece
- David Westhead as Reg Prentice
- Michael Pennington as Michael Foot
- Angus Wright as John Nott
- Julian Wadham as Francis Pym
- Nick Dunning as Jim Prior
- Pip Torrens as Ian Gilmour
- Ronald Reagan (archive footage) as himself
- Reginald Green as Ronald Reagan
Filming began in the UK on 31 December 2010, and the film was released in late 2011.
In preparation for her role, Streep sat through a session at the House of Commons in January 2011 to observe British MPs in action. Extensive filming took place at the neogothic Manchester Town Hall, which is often used as a location double for films which feature the Houses of Parliament because of its architectural similarity.
Streep has said: "The prospect of exploring the swathe cut through history by this remarkable woman is a daunting and exciting challenge. I am trying to approach the role with as much zeal, fervour and attention to detail as the real Lady Thatcher possesses – I can only hope my stamina will begin to approach her own."
Historical inaccuracies 
It is suggested in the film that Thatcher had said goodbye to her friend Airey Neave only a few moments before his assassination, and had to be held back from the scene by security officers. In fact, she was not in Westminster at the time of his death and was informed of it while carrying out official duties elsewhere.
The film fails to show any other female MPs in parliament, thus exaggerating Thatcher’s isolation and brilliance as a lone woman. In fact during Thatcher’s time in parliament, total female MPs numbered between 19 and 41.
Box office 
On Rotten Tomatoes the film held, as of March 2013[update], a "rotten" rating of 52% based on 201 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. Metacritic gives the film a score of 54 based on 41 reviews by critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The film's depiction of Thatcher has been criticized by her children, Mark and Carol Thatcher, who are reported to have said, prior to having seen the film, that "it sounds like some left-wing fantasy." Stuart Jeffries of the British newspaper The Guardian was cautiously optimistic about a non-British actor playing Thatcher. Karen Sue Smith of America Magazine wrote that "by combining the Baroness’s real roles of wife, mother and leader, the film’s portrait of her does what many purported "lives of great men" fail to do—namely, show the person in context, in the quotidian."
The Mail on Sunday reported in August 2011 that some viewers invited to a test screening of the unfinished film were concerned at the film's depiction of Margaret Thatcher's frail health in recent years. This view was also shared in the media subsequent to the film's release. The Daily Telegraph reported in January 2012 that "it is impossible not to be disturbed by [Streep's] depiction of Lady Thatcher's decline into dementia" as part of an article that was headlined: "The Iron Lady reflects society's insensitive attitude towards people with dementia." Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, praising Streep's performance but lamenting that "she's all dressed up with nowhere to go" in a film that cannot decide what it wants to say about Thatcher; "[f]ew people were neutral in their feelings about [Thatcher], except the makers of this picture".
Film review blog Movie Metropolis praised Streep's performance but criticized the lack of depth given to the rest of the story, which seemed to only focus on the glory days of Thatcher's reign.
Despite the film's mixed reviews, Streep's performance in the title role garnered near universal acclaim. Kevin Maher of The Times said: "Streep has found the woman within the caricature." David Gritten at The Daily Telegraph commented; "Awards should be coming Streep's way; yet her brilliance rather overshadows the film itself." Xan Brooks of The Guardian said Streep's performance "is astonishing and all but flawless". Critic Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail wrote: "Only an actress of Streep's stature could possibly capture Thatcher's essence and bring it to the screen. It's a performance of towering proportions that sets a new benchmark for acting." Richard Corliss of Time named Streep's performance one of the Top 10 Movie Performances of 2011.
Streep's portrayal ultimately garnered her the Academy Award for Best Actress (her 17th nomination and third award overall), as well as several other awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama. The film also won the Academy Award for Best Makeup.
Thatcher herself did not watch the film, nor did her children.
- "Soldiers of the Queen"
- "Grocer's Daughter"
- "Grand Hotel"
- "Swing Parliament"
- "Shall We Dance?"
- "The Great in Great Britain"
- "Airey Neave"
- "Discord and Harmony"
- "The Twins"
- "Nation of Shopkeepers"
- "Fiscal Responsibility"
- "Crisis of Confidence"
- "Community Charge"
- "Casta Diva"
- "The Difficult Decisions"
- "Exclusion Zone"
- "Steady the Buffs"
- "Prelude No. 1 in C Major, BWV 846" (Johann Sebastian Bach)
Not included on the soundtrack album or listings although credited among the eight songs at the end of the film is "(I'm In Love With) Margaret Thatcher" by Burnley punk band Notsensibles, which was re-released as a single due to the publicity. The song appears seventy-five minutes into the film, as part of the Falklands War victory celebrations.
Awards and nominations 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
Home media 
The Iron Lady was released on DVD in the United States and the United Kingdom on 10 April 2012. The special features in the DVD include Making The Iron Lady Bonus featurettes, Recreating the young Margaret Thatcher Battle in the House of Commons Costume design, Pearls and power suits Denis and The man behind the woman.
See also 
- "Thomas Newman to Score 'The Iron Lady'". Film Music Reporter. 23 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- "THE IRON LADY (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 2011-11-16. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "The Iron Lady". Box Office Mojo. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Hoyle, Ben (21 March 2007). "Iron Lady Set to Follow the Queen on Screen". The Times. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Peck, Tom (2 July 2010). "Meryl Streep Takes on Her Toughest Role: The Iron Lady". The Independent. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- "The Iron Lady (2011)". Internet Movie Database. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Thompson, Jody (18 February 2011). "First Look: Newcomer Alexandra Roach Who's Set to Become a Star as a Young Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady". Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- Jefferies, Stuart (9 February 2011). "Meryl Streep Playing Margaret Thatcher – What's Not to Like?". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
- Palmer, Martyn (29 November 2011). "An American Playing Margaret Thatcher? Behind the Scenes on the Remarkable Film Starring Meryl Streep as The Iron Lady". Daily Mail. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- "Meryl Streep Attends Parliament for Thatcher Research". The Independent. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- McQueeney, Kerry (5 December 2011). "The Day Meryl Streep Gate-Crashed Our Wedding: Moment Hollywood Legend Made an Appearance at Couple's Special Day... Dressed as Margaret Thatcher". Daily Mail. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- "Image of Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher Unveiled". BBC News. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
- "The Iron Lady (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
- "The Iron Lady". Metacritic. 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
- Walker, Tim (17 July 2010). "Margaret Thatcher's Family Are 'Appalled' at Meryl Streep Film". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Karen Sue, Smith (20 February 2011). "A Grocer's Daughter". America Magazine. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
- Walters, Simon (21 August 2011). "Friends Revulsion at Film That Portrays Lady Thatcher as 'Granny Going Mad'". The Mail on Sunday. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- "The Iron Lady and Margaret Thatcher's Dementia: Why This Despicable Film Makes Voyeurs of Us All'". The Daily Telegraph. 14 January 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "The Iron Lady". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
- "Review: The Iron Lady (2011)". Movie Metropolis. January 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- "Meryl Streep Film The Iron Lady Wows British Critics". BBC News. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- "The Iron Lady: Review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- "The Iron Lady: First Screening". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- "An Insult? No, This Shows Why Maggie Was So Mighty". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Corliss, Richard (7 December 2011). "The Top 10 Everything of 2011 – Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady". Time. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
- "Meryl Streep Explains Globes Cursing". Access Hollywood. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Karger, Dave (12 February 2012). "BAFTA Winners Announced". Inside Movies (blog of Entertainment Weekly). Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- "Still the Iron Lady". Daily Mail. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- The Iron Lady Movie official homepage.
- ""Oscar 2012 winners – The Full List"". The Guardian. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- ""Nominees and Winners for the 84th Academy Awards"". Academy Awards of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars). Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "Bafta Film Awards 2012: Nominations". 27 March 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- Pond, Steve (12 February 2012). "'The Artist' Dominates at BAFTA Awards". Reuters. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- CD Universe – The Iron Lady (2011).
- The Iron Lady at the Internet Movie Database
- The Iron Lady at Box Office Mojo
- The Iron Lady at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Iron Lady at Metacritic
- The Iron Lady in the British Film Institute's "Explore film..." database