'The Iron Lady' Review: Streep Shines in Old-Fashioned Biopic

Meryl Streep doesn’t simply play Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," she exudes her. With an intense concentration, Streep captures both the chipper intransigence of Britain’s first female prime minister (from 1979 to 1990), and—with the aid of uncannily realistic old-age makeup and prosthetics—the lonely dementia of her dotage, into which we are told she is sunk today, at the age of 86.

Streep is brilliant, fully validating the decision by director Phyllidia Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) to go with an American actress in portraying an Englishwoman of such long familiarity. So it’s odd to find this technically complex and naturalistic performance encased in such a resolutely old-fashioned, Hollywood-style biopic. I half expected to see Thatcher bumping into Greer Garson’s Madame Curie in one of the film’s many dream-world reveries.

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The movie dutifully ticks off the highlights of Thatcher’s career: the rise of the provincial grocer’s daughter through the Conservative Party ranks to the top of the political order; her facing down of the powerful trade unions whose strikes were threatening to paralyze the country in the early 1980s; her condemnations of socialism and unflinching defense of free markets in the face of hooting derision in the House of Commons; her handling of the 1982 Falklands war, in which Britain controversially prevailed; and her unyielding condemnation of bomb-planting IRA terrorism. (“We have always lived alongside evil,” the PM says. “But it has never been so impatient, so avid for carnage, so eager to carry innocence along with it into oblivion.”)

Read the full review at Reason.com

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