The steely determination of ‘The Iron Lady’

Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent star in “The Iron Lady” as Margaret and Denis Thatcher.

Meryl Streep is so flawless that she makes one of Britain’s most controversial prime ministers completely sympathetic. But let’s face it, she could play Hitler and we’d all be crying for poor Adolf at the end.

 Known for her stringent economic austerity measures and tough stance against trade unions in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher has just as many fans as detractors today. But what Streep and director Phyllida Lloyd present is a woman whose admirable determination transcends her own somewhat mixed political legacy.

The story is framed by three days in the life of Thatcher during her retirement years, as she slowly drifts into dementia. She’s tasked with disposing of her deceased husband’s clothes. And in those moments, she’s reminded — very neatly and chronologically, of course — of pivotal moments in her life. True, they’re not exactly reinventing the wheel here, but such a format allows the emphasis to be placed on Thatcher’s humanity — her love of her husband and unflappability in the face of a government entirely dominated by men — rather than becoming a dry, procedural biography.

As you would expect, Streep gets Margaret Thatcher’s high-pitched trill just right. Even if Margaret Thatcher isn’t perfect, we at least know that Meryl Streep is.


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