Under Thatcher's Rule; as Britain's Longest-Serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century, Margaret Thatcher Divided the Country. Now Her Story Is Being Told on the Big Screen. Graham Young Delivers His Verdict

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Under Thatcher's Rule; as Britain's Longest-Serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century, Margaret Thatcher Divided the Country. Now Her Story Is Being Told on the Big Screen. Graham Young Delivers His Verdict


Byline: Graham Young

The Iron Lady (12A, 105 mins) ON May 3, 1979, Margaret Thatcher famously won her first General Election - and then lasted 11' years at No 10 to become Britain's longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century.

Just a month earlier, on April 9, 1979, The Deer Hunter star Meryl Streep launched her own career by going home empty-handed from the Academy Awards as a best supporting actress nominee.

Today, more than 30 years later, their paths finally cross with Ms Streep playing the grocer's daughter from Grantham on her way to leading her country - only to end up living on her own following the (unseen) death of husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) and the fact that she was never conventionally close to her children, Carol (played as an adult by Olivia Colman) and Mark (seen only as a boy).

While Maggie was fighting the unions and Argentina over the Falklands, Streep was busy winning a best supporting actress Oscar for Kramer vs Kramer (1980), before losing out as a best actress candidate for The French Lieutenant's Woman (1982) and then winning her only best actress Oscar for Sophie's Choice in 1983. Since then, Streep has had another supporting actress nod for Adaptation (2003) and lost 11 leading actress nominations in a row.

Arguably the greatest actor of her generation, and quite possibly of all time, Streep still manages to give the performance of a lifetime in this very British story.

While the younger Margaret is played by Ammanford-born actress Alexandra Roach, New Jersey star Streep lives and breathes the role across four decades with such conviction it's impossible to believe she's not the real deal.

While Maggie is portrayed in vigorous middle age as an indomitable political force, what is making this film controversial, though, are the bookends of mental confusion in her twilight years.

Just as Streep excels as the latter day Thatcher, Roach play the young Margaret with such conviction that she''d be a good outside bet for a best supporting actress Oscar nomination.

Even though few people would know this softer but equally determined side of the future prime minister''s personality, Roach is so convincing it''s as if we grew up aware of Margaret Roberts, as Thatcher was once known, too. …

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