Watched Jan 25, 2012
Mackenzie Snow’s review:
I watched this movie to see what the fuss was all about. After watching the movie, I still want to know what the fuss is all about.
It just didn't seem like it was a movie that needs to be fussed about... and I'm a little torn about Meryl Streep's performance in it. And I think, if there's a reason for her to win an Oscar, this role is it. Everyone kept saying she got robbed of an Oscar by Sandra Bullock in the same year that they both got nominated for Best Actress but seeing her Margaret Thatcher, I think if anyone wants to give her an Oscar, it should be for the 'Iron Lady' and not for Julia Child. Meaning, this is actually her better performance and I honestly believe that she's a fantastic and wonderful actress.
But there's still a huge 'Oscar bait'-ish to her Thatcher. Something that's so obvious and so "Hey, I'm Meryl Streep and I am f*cking brilliant at what I do" in that performance. There's nothing wrong with this, I guess, but now if you ask me who I am going to be rooting for at the Oscars, I will now say Viola Davis. Her performance felt a lot more natural and genuine and it enhanced the storytelling in the film. This Thatcher of Ms. Streep's is like Charlize Theron in Monster all over again. A lot of people considered that performance to be brilliant, but really what worked there was the make-up. She physically changed into a different person and relied rather heavily on that transformation. This time around, Streep had fabulous make-up on - seriously, it's amazing how they worked Meryl's looks between the middle-aged Thatcher and hallucinating granny Thatcher - but that was half of her acting excellence right there. I want to like it so badly but something feels still a little bit off there.
(Voice-wise, though, I was told that she nailed it. She sounded like Thatcher exactly. So, maybe yeah, she probably deserves to win that Oscar everyone so badly wants her to win.)
The filmmaking itself is not a failure, although I wouldn't call it a spectacle. In fact, for a biopic of a political figure, this movie lacked intensity. It was too 'pop' and too 'theatrical'. I wish the filmmakers had specified exactly what this was supposed to be about: Margaret Thatcher's life as a politican or Margaret Thatcher's life as Denis Thatcher's formidable wife. It seemed to have achieved neither because many times it felt like the movie was taken in two different directions. Actually, I think this may be Abi Morgan's fault as the writer rather than Lloyd's direction. Several scenes and shots were elegantly executed - very small moments, though - while a few just looked overly pretentious, especially when the clips and footages of those violent riots and events were used. (My friend said it was "very MTV".) So everything's a bit all over the place and there's no real focus to fix our attention to.
It was very much like watching a caricature of Thatcher and British politics instead of the real thing. Maybe it's intentional - because, after all, the director wants to humanize Margaret Thatcher - and it's certainly great vehicle for Meryl Streep to showcase her talent. Overall, it's entertaining and tastefully made, with a dollop of true acting excellence from Jim Broadbent, but it's still not going into my favorites list. The movie's there, it deserves to be watched, but a lasting impression it does not make.