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Film Review: "The Iron Lady"

Meryl Streep has certainly played British before - "The French Lieutenant's Woman" and the underrated "Plenty," for starters - but is now figuratively playing Britain itself.

Though the movie is polarizing critics, her performance as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is not. Accolades are pouring forth for Streep's ability, yet again, to completely lose herself inside a character - from the hunch of her back to the tap-tap-tap of her restless fingers. Of course she's brilliant, but many have found the movie sketchy and strange (thus the great potential for discussing it over a bottle of Merlot). 

Director Phyllida Lloyd and writer Abi Morgan decided to make a third of the film about what Thatcher's life may be like today: as a once powerful woman in her mid-eightes beset with bouts of dementia and, what's perhaps more punitive, powerlessness. Scenes of a feeble Thatcher conversing with a hallucination of her late husband (Jim Broadbent) are sad, for sure, but too plentiful, especially given that there are so many details about her rise to power and alleged ruthlessness that are both truthful and more interesting. One can argue about the results of Thatcher's politically right-wing decisions but what isn't debatable is the fact that she was always a woman in a sea of men, trying despite the odds to make her voice heard.


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Since 1998, Steve Walker has contributed stories and interviews about theater, visual arts, and music as an arts reporter at KCUR. He's also one of Up to Date's regular trio of critics who discuss the latest in art, independent and documentary films playing on area screens.
Stephen Steigman is director of Classical KC and chief of broadcast operations for KCUR 89.3 and 91.9 Classical KC. You can email him at stephen@kcur.org.