We meet Margaret Thatcher (played by Meryl Streep) when she is aged and reminiscing. At this stage, she still has an intermittent public role where she attends formal functions from time to time, but her days of high level politics and media exposure are long behind her. A memoir has recently been published and Margaret is living in a world dominated by her memories. The key points of her life are depicted in snippets through her own reflections. We learn about her schoolgirl days, the influence of her grocer father, her early days in politics, life with her husband Denis (by Jim Broadbent), early family life with her two children and her gradual rise to leadership of the British Conservative (Tory) Party with eventual role as British Prime Minister. She is portrayed as a woman focussed on her job and the politics of the time – the family are almost a distraction for her.
I am not familiar enough with the other British political figures of the time (with the exception of Michael Hesseltine and John Major) but others may recognise some of the relevant characters in this story. However, I did remember the political issues referred to such as the UK coal miner’s strike and the Falklands War – both of which bore the strong leadership of Mrs Thatcher. There is no comment in the movie regarding the political events, they are merely there as milestones in time and to demonstrate Margaret’s rise in political status in the UK and globally.
In general, the story is all about Margaret the woman – Meryl Streep plays her marvellously. The makeup is excellent – so much so that at first I wasn’t sure whether I was looking at Streep or not – and her portrayal of Mrs Thatcher is excellent. Jim Broadbent’s performance as Denis is also very well done. Other reviewers have stated that without Streep’s excellent performance, this movie would be dull as all the other characters are grey, faceless and nameless people. I agree with that (except for Denis Thatcher) but I think that is the right way for this movie to have been made – it’s not a political drama, nor a statement about the economics of the time. It’s about Margaret – and it’s very good.
Post Script: Meryl Streep won both the BAFTA and the Academy Award (Oscar) of Best Actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in this movie.
Directed by Phillida Lloyd.