Phyllida Lloyd, who directed Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia!
, takes a less exuberant tack in this unexpectedly poignant biopic. In the script, written by Shame's
Abi Morgan, Lloyd depicts the elderly Dame Thatcher (Streep in a thoroughly convincing performance) as a frail figure replaying key moments in her life while her mind still continues to function. Her trajectory begins with grocer Alfred Roberts (Downton Abbey's
Iain Glen), who became the mayor of Grantham, instilling in his daughter, Margaret (Alexandra Roach), a passion for politics. After graduating from Oxford, she felt ready to enter the fray, at which point she met Denis Thatcher (Harry Lloyd), who cheered her along on the road from Parliament to 10 Downing Street, where they lived during her time as Britain's first female prime minister (Jim Broadbent portrays the grey-haired and ghostly Denis). While closing mines, dodging IRA hits, and overseeing a war, the blue-clad titan built alliances with Airey Neave (Nicholas Farrell) and Geoffrey Howe (Anthony Head), but she would lose them both. If her will was strong, she had no time for feminine niceties like conciliation and forgiveness. The film goes on to suggest that she never cultivated the kinds of female friendships that might have sustained her in retirement, though her daughter (Tyrannosaur's
Olivia Colman) did what she could. Instead, Denis remained her closest confidante until his departure, after which she had nothing but fading memories. The upshot is an uneasy combination of admiration for her leadership qualities and disappointment in her interpersonal skills. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
The Iron Lady [DVD] [DVD] (2012) Meryl Streep; Jim Broadbent; Olivia Colman