The rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher is probably a fascinating, epic story – but you won’t hear it told here.
Bravely attempting to paint a personal portrait of a controversial political figure without any politics, director Phyllida Lloyd proves that it just can’t be done.
Carried over the shallows by Hollywood’s own Iron Lady, Lloyd’s toothless anti-biopic gets all its weight from Meryl Streep’s incredible Oscar-winning performance.
Opening with the dementia-addled Baroness muttering to dead husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) while shopping, the film is framed around flashbacks to a few random events in her life: winning her first bi-election; making her voice heard at a table of grunting old men; and picking the right pearl and bouffant combo to tackle the House of Lords.
Some key moments are given long, witty scenes while others (like the miners’ strike and the Falklands War) are palmed off with hasty montages.
Incredibly made-up, and carefully mirroring every mannerism, Streep’s Maggie is more than Spitting Image pastiche.
A delicate balance of monstrous ambition and emotional vulnerability, it’s a shame the lightweight script keeps her on such a short leash.
Feeling at times like watching a version of The Godfather where Marlon Brando is only shown pottering about the garden and overcoming racial stereotyping in the olive oil business, Lloyd’s film is a cautionary tale for anyone who wants to ignore the bigger picture.