Power point

The developing shots of The Iron Lady are effective, but soon the narrative starts meandering

Britain’s longest-serving Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ruled with rare authority. Daughter of a grocer, Margaret Roberts was strong-willed and took Conservatives to power for more than a decade before, like most megalomaniacs, power corrupted and she went sliding to defeat and wilderness.

Director Phyllida Lloyd begins with an ageing Maggie (Meryl Streep) going to the store almost unrecognised to buy milk. Her husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent) is, by now, dead and she is putting his clothes aside, aided by her daughter Carol (Olivia Coleman). Hallucinating from time to time, she lives in memories of her early life with Dennis and the twins Mark and Carol. A young Margaret Roberts (Alexandra Roach) is seen being wooed by Dennis to the tune of "Shall We Dance" from The King and I, which is indeed the theme song rendered tunefully by Thomas Newman. The developing shots by Lloyd are very effective and we soon learn of her obstinacy.

The versatile Meryl Streep won her third Best Actress Oscar for her role in the film
The versatile Meryl Streep won her third Best Actress Oscar for her role in the film

But Lloyd does not exert that kind of brevity in the rest of the film and its 105-minute duration could easily have been clipped by a third. Like Maggie’s line that one must exit before they ask when, the narrative meanders along when less would surely mean more. Here also, screenwriter Aby Morgan must also share the blame.

"Today everyone feels, no one thinks … thinking is important" goes another good line. But sadly, she falls victim to her own adages and the Lord Acton quote of power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely stands supreme. The Parliamentary discussions are very impressive and Opposition leader Geoffrey Howe (Anthony Head) does an excellent job but one does not see enough of earlier Prime Minister Edward Heath (John Sessions) or the latter incumbent John Major (Morgan Kermode). By the end of the narrative, she is indulging in self pity.

Lloyd is far too verbose and many of the ageing scenes reek of melodrama, which also do not do the Iron Lady proud.

Meryl Streep is brilliant in the lead role and once again shows her versatility. And she deservedly won her third Best Actress Oscar . She is supported well by Jim Broadbent and Alexandra Roach. The Iron Lady just cannot be missed.