“Iron Lady”: A Fascinating British History Lesson

Meryl Streep IS Margaret Thatcher!

If you’d like to learn more about British history, then “Iron Lady” is a must-see. If you want to watch the most-brilliant actress of her time—Meryl Streep—absolutely transform herself into Margaret Thatcher, then this is a don’t-miss biopic. Just don’t expect this movie to be nearly as good as “The King’s Speech”; it crawls along at a very slow pace.

Sidebar: Even though I recently railed against a certain American (Robert Downey Jr.) for (poorly) playing a Brit, I can’t imagine a British actress who would’ve done a better job than Streep. No American actress nails an accent better than her (watch “Sophie’s Choice”).

The “Iron Lady” tells the story of Thatcher’s rise and fall as Great Britain’s prime minister (1979-1990) using a narrative that switches between what she might be like now—slowly losing her mind to dementia—and pivotal past events. It’s a somewhat-confusing technique that only someone with as much talent as Streep can flawlessly pull off.

The young Margaret Thatcher ponders her political future.

Helping Streep to carry the movie is Alexandra Roach, who plays the younger version of Thatcher. She and Streep look remarkably alike, thanks to prosthetics, and both did a great job executing Thatcher’s distinctive diction.

Denis (Jim Broadbent) and Margaret Thatcher celebrate her victory.

Before seeing the film, I had no idea what Thatcher was like—what motivated her to run for political office (she was greatly influenced by her father, a grocer who also was mayor of their small town); how she placed public service above her family; how her humble upbringing helped her understand what ordinary Brits were going through; and how she had to make the tough, often-hated decisions as prime minister. She obviously was a very-complex woman.

I especially liked some of her quotes. One favorite was: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” Another, which was said in the movie by young Margaret when Denis Thatcher asked her to marry him, was: “One’s life must matter!”

Yes, Margaret Thatcher, your life has mattered! And now we can see the good and the bad of it in the “Iron Lady.”

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