The Iron Lady
Tagline: Never Compromise
If you were to put forward the ideal person to play former British Prime Minister – and the first and only female to hold the position – Margaret Thatcher, you’d imagine that Meryl Streep would be high on the wish list, despite the fact that she’s not actually a Brit. The reason? Because not only does she throw herself into roles with a steely determination (some in the know claim she’s come closer to sounding like Thatcher than anyone other than the actual woman herself) but Streep’s name on the poster pretty much guarantees Oscar buzz.
And that’s been the case in The Iron Lady where director Phyllida Lloyd (they teamed up for the slightly less serious Mamma Mia!) takes a look back on Thatcher’s reign by juxtaposing her fearsome reputation while in office with her reportedly current day state of Alzheimer’s, which could account for the 86-year-old sooner rather than later.
The movie shuttles between Thatcher in her pomp (The Falklands War, the miners strike) and her doddering around at home. And much like people’s opinion of the woman in question, the reviews are mixed. “Despite the story’s conceit of placing the viewer inside Thatcher’s head, she never feels like a real person,” writes the Village Voice. But Entertainment Weekly disagrees: “Streep is her own irresistible show as she assumes, with the precision that is her trademark, the character of the U.K.’s staunchly conservative prime minister in the 1980s.” It’s left to Time Out New York to find some middle ground, acknowledging the power of Streep’s performance (“unsurprisingly excellent”) but that “All the oversimplification and revisionism distracts,” concluding that “This iron lady of cinema deserves better.” For what it’s worth, Friday Flicks is predicting that yet another actor portraying a British figure (following on from Colin Firth in The King’s Speech and Helen Mirren in The Queen) will win an Oscar, meaning that Streep will get to take to the Academy stage for the first time in nearly 30 years.
For those of you suffering from blockbuster overload, a slice of Iranian cinema might be just the ticket to help you get over Tintin, Sherlock Holmes or Mission: Impossible. So while you won’t get any CGI in A Separation, you will be introduced to a tale about the dissolution of a marriage. Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). But Simin sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer-suffering father (and that’s the only link you’ll surely find to The Iron Lady). With her request denied (“Your problem is a small problem,” is the judge’s summing up), Simin goes back to her parents’ place, but Termeh decides to stay with Nader.
You’d imagine that writer-director Asghar Farhadi couldn’t be happier with the thoughts of the critics, who aren’t separated in their outpouring of love for A Separation. “A total triumph,” concludes Time Out New York, “A remarkably poised marital thriller from Iran, full of surprise developments and suppressed volatility,” writes the Observer, while the Village Voice believes that “what’s fascinating is how the various issues – religious or practical – are played out in these two quite different families, yet always come down to irreconcilable differences between rebellious women and their stiff-necked, controlling men.” Perhaps Margaret Thatcher would be able to relate to A Separation after all.
PHOTOS: The Semi-Official View of Iran
NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: You can see The Iron Lady for Meryl Streep’s performance or A Separation for its entire cast. If you can handle the subtitles, the latter might be the more rewarding experience.