The Iron Lady - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Iron Lady Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 23, 2012
Apart from Streep's performance, nothing else works in this terrible, disjointed mess of a biopic that is so badly written and directed, full of illogical narrative elements (the schizophrenia thing is unbelievable) and trying hard to soften the image of the character in an entirely artificial way.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2011
Undoubtedly Meryl Streep's performance as the former Prime Minister of the UK was so good it could only be method. The rest of the film, however, is not as cohesive and linear as I would have liked. Jumping around in time is a fine storytelling device, and usually brings a greater emphasis on the importance of the future, but here it's misused, obviously trying to mirror other more popular films. I didn't see any importance in seeing Thatcher in modern times, slightly demented by the death of her husband and her life out of the public arena. Though it may have been an important part of Thatcher's life, we don't even see her husband onscreen enough to warrant him invading her life in the last section of the film. Everything felt rushed, the set pieces were nonexistent, the side characters were forgettable, and the extent of her reach was glossed over for a message of "women need to be taken seriously, more often." Though Thatcher was a trailblazer, and deserved better than a swift kick out of power by her underlings, the tragedy of this undeserved political ploy was underwhelming onscreen. Because everything is rushed along we never grasp the importance of Thatcher's reign, or her true character, which you would think, in a biopic, would be important.
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2013
Mediocre and diffuse. With all her great performances Meryl Streep won an Oscar for this? She has been much better elsewhere.
Super Reviewer
March 22, 2013
Ms. Streep gives a valiant effort to breath life into the crinkly, yellowed parchment of a script. Every nuance perfect, as is the accent - every mannerism, from the steely, self assured Prime Minister to the dottering, confused octogenarian, Meryl gets it all so right; which is in direct opposition to the direction of Phyllida Lloyd. It's sad when the only real humanity shown in the film is in the portrayal of Dennis Thatcher by the great Jim Broadbent - ironic since he is playing a ghost for much of the film.

Lloyd's pacing leaves much to be desired as way too much time is spent establishing that the aged Thatcher is tottering on the edge of senility. Lloyd also chooses to tell the story in a disjointed jumble of recollections that strip away any drama, so instead of an insightful look into one of the strongest willed women of the 20th century (hence the title, something Lloyd should have paid attention to), you get a cliff notes outline of her political career. You come away knowing that she had the typical British stiff upper lip and an amazing resolve, but you never really know the woman - and isn't that the alleged point of a biopic?

The film is like a history class taught by a bad teacher - all date memorization with no human point of reference behind it; so in the end you have a curiosity piece that only satisfies because of yet another skilled performance to add to the Streep canon.
Super Reviewer
June 10, 2012 favorite genre. Meryl actress that I most admire. Put these two things together, and I have a film that I very much enjoyed. Not terribly fast paced, but definitely well done, and quite interesting...
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2011
Never compromise.

Mediocre Film! Meryl Streep's performance in this movie was phenomenal. Unfortunately the movie was not. If you want to go see a movie about the life and career of Margaret Thatcher do not waste your time. If you want to see an elderly woman struggling with dementia for 2 hours then this is your movie. The movie barely goes over Thatcher's rise to prime minister or her personal life. Instead 80% of the movie focuses on Thatcher's current health state, only showing her confused and disoriented. The movie does a few 5 minute flashes to her past but it probably only amounts to about 25 minutes. Finally I find it despicable that instead of highlighting Thatcher's achievements, Hollywood choose to exploit her dementia a condition she has kept from the public and tried to be extremely private about.

Elderly and a virtual prisoner in her own home due to her concerned staff and daughter Carol, Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first woman prime minister, looks back on her life as she clears out her late husband Denis's clothes for the Oxfam shop. Denis is seen as being her rock as she first enters parliament and then runs for the leadership of the Conservative Party, culminating in her eventual premiereship. Now his ghost joins her to comment on her successes and failures, sometimes to her annoyance, generally to her comfort until ultimately, as the clothes are sent to the charity shop, Denis departs from Margret's life forever.
Super Reviewer
November 11, 2012
Seriously depressing movie. This is more about Margaret's struggles in later life with dementia and mourning her husband than about her career. It's very well done, and Meryl is excellent, but I really would have liked more detail and history of events than the sad portrayal of an old lady. Felt very down at the end of it. Not sure it is very respectful either. I'm I am not really up on what Margaret actually did as prime minister, which was part of the reason I was interested to see this. Right or not, she was obviously a strong woman with an interesting life. It seems they could have made this movie about any old lady with similar health problems.
Super Reviewer
½ October 19, 2012
Fantastic cast. Meryl Streep can do no wrong. She's unbelieveable as Margaret Thatcher.
Super Reviewer
August 13, 2012
Meryl Streep's performance is near perfection, but the majority of the 'Iron Lady' is slow and relatively boring.

Exploring the life of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, there are good performances from all the cast, but it is the screenplay which lets down the rest of the film. It's 'gentle' pace becomes 'slow' and then 'too slow.' And this speed never picks up.

To say nothing of the genre choice. 'The Iron Lady' can't seem to decide between being a bio-pic or a fictional tale using a real life character. This is the film's greatest flaw, and one it never can get over. The real moments of her long tenure as leader of the United Kingdom and her real life, are mixed in, wrongly, with complete nonsense moments.

There are some moments of passionate and visually pleasing pieces of cinematography and background, as well as some wonderful script lines, some real, some not.

But overall, the film is a disappointing tale of a massively powerful woman. Whether you hate her or love her, such a powerful and important person in history, deserves better.

Even Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent's performances can't save this dreary film, but they do lift it some way.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2012
The Iron Lady is flawed. There's a very good film contained within, but I suspect some of it is on the cutting room floor. Margaret Thatcher's political pursuits are where this shines. Some judicious editing could have taken this to the next level. I'm reminded of another Meryl Streep vehicle. Julie & Julia was a good movie - whenever the chronicle focused on Julia Child, that is. So too is The Iron Lady a superior production whenever Margaret Thatcher is the tenacious leader of Great Britain. The agreeable matriarch of the present simply diminishes dramatic tension whenever things starts to escalate. Perhaps that's the contradictory perspective director Phyllida Lloyd wanted to relate, but Thatcher's energizing display as an obstinate firebrand of the past is so much more engaging. Meryl Streep deserves a lot of recognition for her singular performance, the story - not so much.
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2012
The Iron Lady is a terrific portrait of female British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Though not a perfect portrait of Thatcher, this film has a stunning performance by Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. Brilliantly acted and directed. Although the film could have focused a lot more on Thatcher's life, the run time of this film is pretty short. I thought that Streep's performance made this film great. The film although not perfect, got some key moments in Thatcher's rule down pretty well. Her portrayal of a historical figure equals that of Colin Firth's portrayal of King George Vi in The King's Speech. I thought that Meryl Streep's performance made this film more interesting, and worth seeing. The Iron Lady is flawed, but with a great cast, it makes for a great film to watch. The film does a great job at telling the story of the first and only female British Prime Minister. I very much enjoyed this film, and thought it was a great portrayal of Thatcher. The films story was good, but needed a little work to make it stand out. For the most part, I didn't mind this because the film was interesting enough due to Meryl Streep's performance that I was able to overlook its faults. I just felt there could have been a little more detail in the film due to the fact that Margaret Thatcher is an important figure. Brilliantly acted and directed, The Iron Lady is a must see film that despite its imperfections has one of the most memorable performances that I've seen in quite some time.
Super Reviewer
April 11, 2012
want to see it
Super Reviewer
April 1, 2012
Mostly tedious biopic slog livened by a few discordant, odd formal elements. The dementia framing livens it more than most in its genre, but leaves the movie feeling subjective and slight and without much of a stance of its own.
Super Reviewer
½ March 23, 2012
I was really really disappointed by this movie. I thought it was going to be about the political career of the first female British PM and show her in all her hardnosed, hardline and conservative glory. What we actually get is a befuddled old English lady, a shell of her former self, who slips into the past as she loses her grip on her present reality. The movie dwells so long on the least interesting incarnation of the character that it leaves out everything I wanted to see. Meryl Streep made the best of what she was given and is always a pleasure to watch, but this incomplete character study seemed like a waste of her. They introduce a sunny and delightful character who isn't there, and fails to delve any deeper into any of Thatcher's relationships. You never get to see her bond with anyone. I think this movie would have benefitted greatly from a zoom out and a better sense of focus. I hate to say it, but this movie was every bit as boring as 12 year olds suspect it is, and as boring as I thought it couldn't be.
Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2011
Meryl Streep - what an actress! Her spellbinding turn as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, is the one and true reason why you should see this film. Not that it doesn't have other virtues, but I don't think it would have been half as good as it is if it wasn't for her. I was rather impressed by Alexandra Roach as well, who both looked and sounded the part as Thatcher in her younger years. Now, to be perfectly frank, I don't have much interest in politics (I've actually gone and confused Thatcher with Madeleine Albright up until now, which should tell you something to that fact), but this was quite a captivating portrait of one of Great Britain's most controversial and famous political figures. There is an unnecessary amount of time spent on trivia and the mental hallucinations of our leading lady, but I was still fully absorbed by it and enjoyed it all the way. I was actually surprised to see so many mediocre ratings, for although a little off in places, I thought it to be a well-conceived biopic. As mentioned, however, most of that is owed to Streep, who is undeniably strong as iron in her pitch-perfect performance. If she doesn't get the Oscar for Best Actress, something is seriously unfair. Because this, if anything, has earned her the right to bring home that golden statue. A bravura display of the highest order, by one of the world's most gifted stars. You might not agree with Thatcher's politics, but I can pledge you will agree on this being a worthwhile watch.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2011
Meryl Streep is absolutely incredible as Margaret Thatcher, having mastered the accent, quirks, and style perfectly, but on the other hand, the film itself is not a complete triumph. Phyllida Lloyd has chosen to structure this film similarly to La Vie en Rose where the story is told as flashbacks. In La Vie en Rose, this method is effective and moving, but here it just serves as a checklist of the most important events in Thatcher's career which becomes muddled and confusing. After a slow and somewhat boring first half, the film picks up the pace and gets deeper into the story allowing the audience to become involved and care about the characters. What doesn't help that process though, is the fact that the film doesn't really know what it wants to say about Thatcher, who was such a controversial political figure; loved by some, despised by others. I can understand the fear of trying to portray one view of Thatcher and not the other, but at least say something. I came away feeling like she was somewhat of a hypocrite and failed to do what she so strongly strived for in life. Maybe it was supposed to be that way as a depiction of her struggle against dementia, which was accurate if you ask me. Dementia is a horrible thing; worse I think than cancer, but Thatcher never lost her political side which provided some mild comic relief. Abi Morgan's screenplay was fairly well written, but it could definitely have been better as there were moments when I thought "How staged is that?", or "That was awkward...". The Iron Lady is worth the price of admission to see the impeccable Meryl Streep, but the film just gets bogged down and muddled trying to get all the big and important events fit into the film, and if the career of Maggie was presented in a different format, I feel the audience may have connected to Thatcher more and it would have been much more moving at the end. The Iron Lady she was.
Super Reviewer
February 15, 2012
"Iron Lady is a movie starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. The first and only female prime minister of England. I expected a film about her as the minister, but it's more than that. It's a movie about Thatcher in her later years, living a lonely life, often hallucinating with visions of her dead husband. While reflecting on her life and career in politics. She's ultra conservative, which I'm considered a liberal by some, so I didn't quite care of her political views, but it never goes too overboard into her politics. Streep is amazing, and often times you forget your watching Streep. But, Streep is the only good thing about the movie as a whole. It's slow, the story is jumbled, and other than Streep the performances aren't really that great. Watch for Streep, but keep your expectations low. Unless, your into slow British quasi political movies, then it's right up your alley.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2011
Never Compromise


Honestly this movie has nothing to offer, it doesn't even manage to entertain or educate the viewer. You leave the theaters with nothing to take it, so I suggest you skip this one.

Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher, one most influential women of the 20th century.

Meryl Streep does an good job, as always in her acting skills. But the movie itself lacks all aspects of cinema. Phyllida Lloyd makes a mess , by trying to split the story in two: Margaret's career, and social life, in the end of the day, you would have wished you never seen this movie, it will literally put you to sleep.

Margaret Thatcher: "We will stand on principle, or we will not stand at all."
Super Reviewer
½ December 27, 2011
Caught in what appears to be the early stages of dementia, Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) remembers her rise and fall from power as Britain's first female Prime Minister. Streep's performance, especially as the vulnerable older woman, is the reason to watch. Otherwise, the film is like looking at old press clippings: fun if you're a Thatcher fan or professional detractor but of only passing interest otherwise.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2012
There's a moment in "Iron Lady" where Margaret Thatcher now in her later years and battling mental degeneration is staring at herself in the mirror listening to the voice of her deceased husband in the background. The look of confusion and attempts to snap back into clarity are brilliant; the acting is superb and the depiction of the worst part of aging is gripping.

Unfortunately that is not the movie "Iron Lady" promises to be. The opportunity to tell the story of one of the most fascinating and powerful female politicians ever is missed and that is regrettable. But despite the miss, "Iron Lady" is worth watch to witness a master class performance by one of the best actresses ever: Meryl Streep.

Streep's every move, speech, look captures Margaret Thatcher perfectly. Similar to her transformation into Julia Child, Streep doesn't impersonate, she embodies. She elevates the material and gives the audience a masterful performance that should snap her an elusive 3rd Oscar.

As for the rest of the film, "Iron Lady" has its moments. Phillipa Lloyd seems more interested in telling the story of Thatcher in her later years so the film becomes less about her rise to the most powerful position in Britain and more of a personal drama about old age. That story is done well ... but I wonder how powerful it would have been to see Streep dig deeper into political and governmental machinations vs watching her as an old lady packing her dead husband's belongings.

So go see "Iron Lady" for Streep. She's worth the price of admission alone. Just don't expect to know more about Thatcher than you can already find on Wikipedia.
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