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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » February 23, 2012
Film review
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The Iron Lady
February 23, 2012   
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“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become... habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.” These words pronounced by Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady can serve as a summary of her life and her struggle all the way to the top in a world dominated by men.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, The Iron Lady has proved a hit worldwide. So far, it has garnered two Academy Award nominations, two BAFTA nominations and two BAFTA awards, a Golden Globe and seven other awards and 12 nominations. It has also proved to be a box-office success, and in the United States alone it raked in $20 million in just over a month, more than covering the $13 million it cost to make. The story of Britain’s first woman prime minister, one of the most colorful and controversial figures of the 1980s, had success written all over it. Thatcher is such a distinctive figure that it is surprising that Hollywood has not turned her story into a movie until now.

We are introduced to Britain’s Iron Lady at a point in her life when she has long been absent from politics, and is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She is locked in a private world populated by ghosts, mainly that of her late husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent—Moulin Rouge!, Gangs of New York, Iris), who has been dead for years. Flashbacks show Thatcher in her prime, during key points in her political career such as the Falklands war and the miners’ strike, which she broke. We see Thatcher emerging triumphant from both crises but the film also portrays the bitterness and the deep rifts the strike exposed in British society.

Naturally, no story of Margaret Thatcher could neglect the other great figures of the era when communism finally collapsed. U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev are edited into the film from documentary footage, while U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig is played by Matthew Marsh (Spy Game, Bad Company).

The Iron Lady could have been a far better movie if screenwriter Abi Morgan (Shame) had made a bigger effort and the director’s job had been given to somebody with more experience than Lloyd. Her filmmaking accomplishments boil down to Mamma Mia!, the hit 2008 musical which was a totally different genre, although it too had Meryl Streep in it, cast as the main character.

Still, all this is secondary, because just as viewers flocked to see The Queen by Stephen Frears (2006) for the phenomenal performance by Helen Mirren, so Streep completely steals the show in The Iron Lady. So far, her role as Thatcher has won her a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Film Award and as this issue goes to print, the two-time Academy Award winner—who has been nominated for the award 17 times, an all-time record—may be about to take home the coveted Oscar for the third time.
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