Thatcher (“MT” to Denis) was, in her day, the least popular Prime Minister ever. Phyllida Lloyd’s THE IRON LADY is strangely silent on this. We do see MT in her pomp, serenely indifferent to the crowds outside the ministerial Jag, screaming in rage and disgust and spite—but nothing on why she was so hated and loathed and detested. Seems an oversight.
Perhaps the detachment of those scenes prefigure, in retrospect, MT’s isolation as an elderly woman determined to ignore, then banish the Scotch-fuelled hallucinations of rampant dementia. The dead hand of the Vienna quack lies heavy on almost every scene of Abi Morgan’s screenplay, full of psychoanalytic not-quite-explanations of this extraordinary character. Did the Number 10 staff really give her a “Roberts” radio as a parting gift? It’s a gift to the symbol-minded film-maker, neatly tying up all those flashback vignettes of young MT (a winning Alexandra Roach) gazing adoringly up at the Honest Grocer of Grantham. It’s all his fault. His. Him. He. If it’s not Dad, it’s hubby (Jim Broadbent—mostly imaginary and often sinister; Harry Lloyd—young, real, funny) or the unseen son Mark, or her all male Cabinet, deliciously cast with faded smoothies (Tony Head, Richard E. Grant, et al). That could bear more examination.
Technically flawless performance, Actor’s Acting for Actors, in (when you right get down to it) a slightly dull and worthy award-bait movie about “issues”.