REVIEW: The Iron Lady

The Iron Lady
Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd
Written by: Abi Morgan (screenplay)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Alexandra Roach and Iain Glen

It’s no surprise at all that Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher is amazingly conceived and executed, worthy of any acting trophy that exists.  Everything from the posture to the voice and especially those trademark darting eyes are in full force in a movie that unfortunately fails to capture the true gravity of its subject.

Phyllida Lloyd, whose credentials include the much-maligned screen adaptation of Mamma Mia!, brings a typical biopic aesthetic to The Iron Lady.  Every character fits in its appropriate place and blends in with the environment unless they aren’t supposed to.  Abi Morgan’s screenplay, the biggest thing to blame for this film’s mediocrity, often extenuates Thatcher’s struggle to be taken seriously as a female politician.  Everything else is glossed over.

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REVIEW: Another Year

Another Year
Directed by: Mike Leigh
Written by: Mike Leigh (screenplay)
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, and Oliver Maltman

Ordinary life is delicate business, or so Mike Leigh wants you to think in his latest film.  Another Year and its cast of aging characters are both intimately familiar and lived in, and yet like nothing you’ve ever seen.  Leigh shows us happiness at its most stable and misery at its most crippling, usually in the same scene.

He does this chiefly through Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen), a happily married couple who are used to each other and the joke that their names often bring out in people.  Their life together, though, is something they take seriously.  Using their house as a kind of fortress from sadness, Leigh takes us through a year in their lives and the lives of those closest to them.  We begin in spring and end in winter; life to death.  It sounds more dramatic than it is.

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