We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
You have to be very talented to work with Meryl Streep. It also helps to know how to use her. "The Iron Lady" fails in both of these categories. Streep creates an uncanny impersonation of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but in this film she's all dressed up with nowhere to go. Director Phyllida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan seem to have little clear idea of what they think about Thatcher, or what they want to say.
If there has ever been a biopic that required an opinion of its subject, that biopic would seem to be "The Iron Lady." Thatcher held office for an unprecedented three terms, bitterly divided Great Britain, and led her nation during the Falklands War, which seemed to be largely an exercise in hubris on both sides. Before the war (and now), no one frankly gave a damn about the Falkland Islands, and Thatcher's foreign policy amounted to: "They're ours and you bloody well can't have them." For this, brave troops on both sides were killed, and those who cared to could deceive themselves that there was one small spot of foreign soil that, as far as Thatcher was concerned, would be forever British. (Footnote: The British didn't consider it foreign.)
Of course, Argentina started the war by invading the Falklands, over which it had disputed Britain's claim since 1833. You can't say they didn't wait long enough before taking action. And if Argentina mounted a military invasion, what could Thatcher do? She was compelled to defend the islands. The loved ones on either side who lost someone in that war must have been hard-pressed to understand why death was useful or necessary.
That wasn't Thatcher's concern. In a striking scene that takes place in her increasingly senile old age, she declares that ideas are more important to her than feelings. That seems to have been a governing principle in her life, allowing her to look with apparently limited concern at unemployment, hunger and homelessness on the domestic front. In "Shanghai Express," Marlene Dietrich utters the immortal words: "It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily." In a similar way, the Iron Lady seems to have been well-nicknamed.