Sunday, January 29, 2012

Movie Review: The Iron Lady (2011)

Vote for the hair.

Warning: this review features INTENSE FAWNING.

First, let me be clear: The Iron Lady is not a spin-off of Iron Man, although if it were, Meryl Streep would have us all convinced that a woman in her 60's can and will invent a suit of iron, get in it, and blast bad guys to smithereens, all while being attractively conflicted about her own role in the military-industrial complex, and sporting a devil-may-care attitude to hide her intense attraction to her loyal secretary.

...Excuse me, I must now write that screenplay.

(type type type)

All kidding aside, I went into The Iron Lady with no preconceptions and came out bloody moved. (Full disclosure: I was not yet born when she became Britain's first female Prime Minister, and I was a little kid during her days of ultimate power and glory.) The film is a loving answer to the question: what happens after power? What is it like for the formidable Lady Thatcher in her twilight days? Unlike the woman in the bathroom after the movie who opined that it "spent too much time in the now," I appreciated the creative glimpse into a strong woman's struggle with old age, powerful memories, and unfamiliar solitude.

Meryl Streep, as we all know, can earn a Best Actress nomination even if she played Optimus Prime in Transformers 4: Run Robot Run. At the recent Golden Globes, she was clearly surprised at winning the award, nearly jumping out of her chair when her victory finally sank in, and once again graciously thanking her fellow nominees for their excellent work. After watching this film, I am totally rooting for her to win the Oscar. Streep breathes fiery life into the woman who fought every day of her life to rise to the top, and fought every day since to enforce her principles, and then fought even after that to retain her sanity and make sense of a crazy, crazy world.

Gosh, and the makeup! It was spectacular and complemented Streep's flawless performance. That old lady face deserves a prize, too. The music was also terrific, and the supporting cast -- most notably darling Jim Broadbent and Alexandra Roach as the young Maggie -- were superlative.

Did I cry like a baby near the end? You bet I did. Of course, I also secretly wept at the trailer about a town in Alaska saving three whales, it starred Drew Barrymore and it was called Big Fishies or something, so perhaps my emotional reaction is not, er, a good standard for judging a film's impact and merit. But if this was Streep's campaign, she's got my vote.

Insert clever closing line here, I'm exhausted from all the fawning.