The Iron Lady (2011)
Why did Phyllida Lloyd insist on giving Olivia Colman's Carol Thatcher such a bloody daft hooter? It may seem like an odd question to open a review with, but let's have moment of clarity right from the get-go shall we? Did Lloyd really expect us to ignore it? For those people that know what Carol Thatcher and Olivia Colman both look like in real life (no oil painting, but certainly not the spitting image caricatures you see here) it may be an inauspicious portent of things to come as Carol's first appearance in the film is fairly early on. From that very point, you can be forgiven for already asking; "just what the hell have I walked into?"
Well, we can answer this quite easily with another question. Take away Meryl Streep and what have you got? This is, after all, a supposed biopic of the former Prime Minister. This reviewer was under the impression that this would entail at least a mildly thorough study of her political career, the part of her life that brought her notoriety. Is this not what the viewing public would have expected when venturing into the cinema?
Whilst there is some nods to her time as a premier politician, Lloyd's film flits with butterfly prowess from present day to wartime, darting to her election success in Finchley and then back to today again. There is little weight in the script at any stage and it is regrettably unfortunate to say that the high point (notwithstanding Carol's comically enlarged nose) of the film is probably the make-up. Streep is, as usual, only as good as the delivery of the material and this is pretty standard fare for her. She makes a perfectly adequate Margaret, though you do wonder if that is enough, given the masses of material available and the quirks and nuances that Thatcher displays during this period of infamy.
It is safe to assume that Streep will indeed get yet another Oscar nomination for this performance, but I cannot help but wonder if this is not for the performance these days, rather than tradition. With the success of The King's Speech proving that the Academy loves all things British with a historical bent, this is pretty much a given. The HFPA decided in their wisdom to drop a Golden Globe in her lap, which goes some way to predicting she will be there or thereabouts on the night. In no way should this allude to the film itself having any worth, as frankly, this is a poor effort. It is often hackneyed and cliched and occasionally threatens to burst into song like one of Lloyd's previous efforts, Mamma Mia.
This movie lacks gravitas, sensibility and weight. All of the things you would expect of a potential Oscar runner of this type with Streep at the helm. Like the shambling, eager-to-please apparition that Dennis Thatcher appears to be here, you can't help but wonder if the Academy, should they deem the film worthy, isn't just going along with it so as not to cause a fuss. Disappointing.