There is no question that Meryl Streep is brilliant as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Her Oscar win as best actress was well-deserved.
An ideological hero of the right, Thatcher, now 86, who is suffering from dementia, was the longest-serving British prime minister during the 20th century, a counterpart to Ronald Reagan during the 1980s but without the charm.
She's a fascinating historic figure, for sure, and her pursuit of power in a man's profession certainly took its toll on her personal life or in other ways. Or did it?
That's part of the problem of Phyllida Lloyd's film. Told as a remembrance in her old age, you see Thatcher's marriage to her faithful and rarely critical husband Denis (Jim Broadbent), and a somewhat rocky relationship with her daughter, Carol. (Her son, Mark, oddly, is unseen.)
Political battles and confrontations with world leaders are recounted, but much of it comes across as a fuzzy memory.
We glimpse Thatcher's shrewdness and implacable will, but this isn't a coherent portrait. It seems more as if Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan are trying to hedge their bets — maybe because Thatcher is alive, maybe because she is such a revered figure, maybe because they are ambivalent.
On one hand, it's easy to admire Thatcher for her fortitude and convictions, but maybe not for her politics or even because she was a woman who became a world leader.
Being of two minds about your subject is perfectly acceptable in biopics, but it can't bleed over into the narrative. The Iron Lady comes across as too disjointed to engage, except, of course, for Streep's cleverness as an actress.
The Iron Lady retails for $29.98 or $39.99 Blu-ray.