Saturday, January 21, 2012

Phyllida Lloyd: The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady, Weinstein Co., 2012.

It must take a truly visionary director, or a hell of a lot of luck, to make a film based on someone's life which does justice to them and to cinema as art. Bob Fosse (Lenny), Clint Eastwood (Bird) and Taylor Hackford (Ray) come immediately to mind.

Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady is a promising, perplexing film which never truly lets us into its subject, nor does it take a stance on its protagonist, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's controversial position in 1980s pop culture. Instead we get a visually dazzling, narratively interesting period piece which is only survived by its luminous lead turn by the great Meryl Streep.

The way in which Streep inhabits this character is uncanny. Her body language, mannerisms and movements all catalogued to hypnotic perfection. Such a shame the same year Michelle Williams became Marilyn Monroe. Both are otherworldly invocations.

As for the rest of the picture, its all well done enough, but window dressing to Streep's immersive turn. Jim Broadbent is top notch, as always, as Thatcher's devoted husband, Thomas Newman's score is sumptuous and sad, while master dp Elliot Davis lights Streep/Thatcher's pasts and presents to perfection. Director Lloyd, fresh off the painful turkey Mamma Mia! (also with Streep, sadly), ascertains the rhythm without the blues.

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