Streep is "astonishing and all but flawless" Says the Guardian in Early Iron Lady Review

Thanks to Paul Lynch for the heads up for this Guardian review of the Iron Lady.  On Streep:

Says the Guardian, “Yet Streep, it transpires, is the one great weapon of this often silly and suspect picture.”

Her performance is astonishing and all but flawless; a masterpiece of mimicry which re-imagines Thatcher in all her half-forgotten glory. Streep has the basilisk stare; the tilted, faintly predatory posture.

Her delivery, too, is eerily good – a show of demure solicitude, invariably overtaken by steely, wild-eyed stridency.

“Traitors!” she declares as her premiership wobbles. She is condemned by Howe, challenged by Heseltine and finally upended by the cabinet turncoats. All that remains is the love of her adorable Denis and the angelic Mark, who we see prancing on a beach and playing on a swing. “Politicians, ugly buildings and whores,” growled John Huston in Chinatown. “They all get respectable if they last long enough.”

The Iron Lady makes its subject appear not merely respectable but poignant and sympathetic to boot: a woman who wanted nothing more than to change the world and make children happy (even if it is hers specifically).

The saga leaves her shuffling plaintively from room to room, the legend at rest, or being examined by her doctor. He asks her how she feels. “Feelings?” scoffs Thatcher. Feelings do no not interest her. Thoughts and ideas are what matter the most.

“What we think is what we become. And I think I am fine.” The Iron Lady, to a fault, seems to think that as well.

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Meryl Streep is The Iron Lady, full UK trailer & poster

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52 Comments

  1. EricStreep
    November 14, 2011

    yes, Meryl Streep is astonishing but i doubt with this movie…

  2. November 14, 2011

    If it is not a great film then I don’t think that Streep can win. Doubt was a great film and she still lost. Streep and Close might have the same problem. They are great in films that perhaps fall below the level of their performances. The Help is a great film which puts Viola Davis in pole position unless she goes supporting. i think that The iron Lady needs a best picture nomination for Streep to have a solid chance to win. That is what also helped Winslet win for The Reader.

    Having said that maybe the American critics might be more favourable towards The Iron Lady. The Brits might be more harsh as their expectations are more given the importance of Thatcher in that country.

  3. Pierre de Plume
    November 15, 2011

    I don’t think she has a chance of winning.

  4. November 15, 2011

    well..its meryl streep .. no matter how bad the movie is.. she will never ever be ignored by Oscars

  5. November 15, 2011

    The Iron Lady makes its subject appear not merely respectable but poignant and sympathetic to boot: a woman who wanted nothing more than to change the world and make children happy (even if it is hers specifically).

    I love the implicit shade thrown in this comment (and indeed, throughout the article).

    Sounds like Meryl carries the film, and gets Thatcher spot on, which is as it should be. I reckon she has a very good chance at a nomination.

  6. Michael Herbertson
    November 15, 2011

    Ok Sasha -
    Time to include Meryl in your sidebar. It’s starting to feel like anti-Streepism.

  7. Paddy M
    November 15, 2011

    @ Michael Herbertson

    Sasha does not include contenders in the sidebar until the film has been released in some form: shown at a festival, reviewed by the major critics, released in cinemas. It’s not ‘anti-Streepism’. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn’t feature once on the sidebar. Do you suppose that’s anti-David Fincher? I rather doubt it! :D

  8. julian the emperor
    November 15, 2011

    Oh, they must have put all her inferior scenes in the trailer then…No, no, I don’t believe this advance review one bit.

  9. AFK
    November 15, 2011

    @julian the emperor

    the denial…

  10. julian the emperor
    November 15, 2011

    The denial works both ways, AFK. Sure, if Meryl gets strong reviews for this hammy performance she will be a force in this years’ race. That still won’t make Viola Davis go away, though. She is this year’s compelling “narrative”, Streep being in contention for yet another biopic role is no where near as exciting to AMPAS voters, I’m sure.
    And if The Iron Lady sucks as a film (as is suggested here), surely, Meryl will suffer from that. So the denial could as well be on your part…we’ll have to wait and see. I can only speak from having seen that atrocious trailer (“cowardiiissss” = just plain silly)

  11. AFK
    November 15, 2011

    @julian the emperor

    do you think you are emperor of performances like your made-up nick? What makes you so sure calling this a hammy performance? The denial is within you, make yourself believe it darling, human brain is so strong.

  12. AFK
    November 15, 2011

    And before you perform another spit on me, I have to say that I DON’T believe in Meryl Streep winning for this movie if that makes you calm down. I only believe that I will again be moved by her brilliance and that’s all I care for. Fuck the popularity contest really. And I wouldn’t want Streep to earn her well-deserved third Oscar while Glenn Close sits in the audience. That would be cruel.

  13. brandz
    November 15, 2011

    I love when the haters come out of the woodwork. I don’t understand it and never have. Words like ‘astonishing’ and ‘flawless’ and ‘towering’ have been used to describe Streep’s performance. Lead Actress nomination at a minimum, and she is now the de facto frontrunner.

  14. Duke
    November 15, 2011

    I really don’t know what to expect for this category. Meryl Streep, who would be the ultimate favorite, seems to be in a not very good film by a not so trustable director (hasn’t she been contantly in films by weak directors, lately?). Glenn Close has a role of a lifetime and people say it´s too subtle and the film is not that good. Viola Davis, who is great in The Help, should be considered supporting, in my opinion. Michelle Williams got the raves but there´s always the feeling that no one is able to capture the magic of Marilyn. Tilda is once again in a not very mainstream film and probably will be forgotten once again, sadly. Then, we have newcommers in small movies. Then we have Mara in a too dark remake.

    We don´t have a Natalie Portman this year yet. Not even an Annette Bening. What should we think, people?

  15. daveylow
    November 15, 2011

    I really hope the critics’ awards spread the wealth with actresses this season. No reason the same person should win all the major awards over and over again. So let Streep, Davis, Williams all be rewarded by one organization or another.

  16. Jon
    November 15, 2011

    Queen Meryl is just amazing. I am starting to think that acting is just too easy for her. I bet you she could spend an entire movie sitting at a table, reading the phone book and it would still be astonishing.

  17. Nico
    November 15, 2011

    @ Jon

    Too true! She has her haters though. My film lecturer used to call her ”the weeping accent”. Most say her performances are too calculated, too precise, and devoid of raw honest emotion.

  18. julian the emperor
    November 15, 2011

    you know, brandz, the so-called “haters” are of the same ilk as the “lovers”. Words like “towering”, “flawless” etc. are of a kind with “hammy”, “mannered” etc. They are stereotypical ways of expressing a like or dislike for something. Nothing more. We haven’t seen this film yet, and I am not a hater of this enterprise until I get the chance to see it with my own eyes. But we’re talking about a trailer at this point, and that trailer sure looks “hammy” and “mannered”. Then again, many trailers do, so I am not counting out Meryl just yet. Rest assured. I think she is one of the best actresses around, but I definitely question her ability to take on parts that do her talent justice. That’s what so discouraging about her career arc, to me. So many questionable career choices. She couldn’t care less, I think. Which is all the better, otherwise she would feel very depressed by now…
    I would like to see Meryl juts for once work with a really renowned director or an exciting, new upcomer, who could do something interesting with her. i don’t know if it is a lack of ego or the exact opposite that make consistently work with mediocre-at-best directors??

  19. lynne
    November 15, 2011

    “Most say her performances are too calculated, too precise, and devoid of raw honest emotion.”

    I am one of her biggest fans but I can get this critic sometimes. However, I think she has ditched that occasional habit since her work in Adaptation (which remains one of my favourite Streep performance that is severely underrated). I think her performances in the last decade have been consistently brilliant and you can just feel she is enjoying the work she is getting after lean opportunities in the 90s (except for Bridges of Madison County).

  20. steve50
    November 15, 2011

    Judging from the advanced word, which is coming from Thatcher country, btw, I think it is safe to call this one. Any false moves would have been pounced upon, you can be sure. Even if the movie sucks, I don’t think it will matter. Streep is going to get #3.

  21. Tero Heikkinen
    November 15, 2011

    There are quite a few great performances in bad movies. Some of them have won – like Marion Cotillard in the VERY uneven La vie en rose.

    What I think is weird, good or bad, Leo and Meryl… if they both won for playing mostly hated real-life characters, and we have already heard that Leo’s picture is not that loved in general. Maybe one of them is destined to lose.

    I’m a fan of Meryl, but I want her to win when she is absolutely stunning and not for something she can do with her eyes closed. This could be it, I don’t know. One thing is for certain, it is getting closer and closer, and I’d hate it if she won for her 19th nomination or something IF the performance is not as good as some of her most recent ones. Academy will give it to her very very soon (in the next three nominations) – most likely in this decade.

  22. SEAN
    November 15, 2011

    “not for something she can do with her eyes closed” ?!?!?

    Streep commented in the article yesterday that this was the most challenging performance of her career. Given Streep’s virtuosity, that comment is strong.

  23. November 15, 2011

    “There are quite a few great performances in bad movies.”

    Like Winslet, Bullock, Berry, Mirren, Bates, Lange…. And none of them had a string of should-have-wons as long as Streep’s. The combination of that plus what appears to be a remarkable performance is going to be lethal for the competition. The rest will just have to put a notch in their belts this time around.

  24. Tero Heikkinen
    November 15, 2011

    I didn’t mean that this was an easy performance for her. Quite the opposite.

  25. Sasha Stone
    November 15, 2011

    Streep commented in the article yesterday that this was the most challenging performance of her career. Given Streep’s virtuosity, that comment is strong.

    Yes. That is significant.

  26. November 15, 2011

    Very significant. Previously, she had said that Angels in America was her biggest challenge, and look how she knocked that out of the park. Her comment is my primary reason for calling this now, btw.

  27. Ivan
    November 15, 2011

    Overacting!
    Overacting!
    Overacting!

    I go instead for:
    Elizabeth Olsen/Martha Marcy May Marlene
    Olivia Colman/Tyrannosaur
    Viola Davis/The Help
    Charlize Theron/Young Adult
    Tilda Swinton/We Need to Talk About Kevin

  28. julian the emperor
    November 15, 2011

    Lynne: Adaptation is a curious anomaly in her career arc, where she actively sought to work with an interesting director and yes, the results are quite spectacular. That’s my favorite Meryl moment of the last 20 years by far.

    Steve50: I think it’s weird to put that hard an emphasis on how she herself feels about this performance. The artist knows nothing when it comes to the perception of the voters. I think how Meryl feels about her performance is no where near a determining factor in how her chances are for getting that coveted (by her ardent supporters, at least) Oscar.

  29. November 15, 2011

    SEAN, source for that quote? I’d be interested to see how she phrased that in context.

  30. brandz
    November 15, 2011

    julian the emperor, you’re cited above already judging the performance as hammy. we all know where you stand.

  31. daveylow
    November 15, 2011

    Ivan says Overacting!

    I don’t think in this case an overly subtle performance of Thatcher would have worked. People would have gone to sleep.

  32. Zooey
    November 15, 2011

    Streep will win the Oscar for this. Yes, the film’s getting mixed reviews, but nobody says it’s bad. Actually who could win for a great film? But most actress contenders have films with mixed reviews. And I really don’t believe Viola Davis has the star power to win best actress. Usually to win here you need star power or a performance that make people feel a big WOW. Viola doesn’t have these. She could even lose in supporting. Yes, she’s very good, but is she a contender? Streep has many things going for her.

  33. NAXOS
    November 15, 2011

    and the last part of the trailer where she asks everyone to join the ladies she is make up like elizabeth the first which i find interesting and clever!

    Guys come one Thatcher was not Ghandi of course! she was an infamous perhaps politician of her era but tremendously important for the world politics and therefore Streep had to produce the human out of her. Even in the trailer we get it!

  34. jhg
    November 15, 2011

    meryl streep is no good. she is doing the same role every year. even though they are different accents. it is always ‘meryl streep acting this way’. all her performances are selfish.

  35. Sean
    November 15, 2011

    Here is the link to the article.Actually, she calls it her “biggest” role and later that “it took a lot out of her”, that would be, what I consider, challenging.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/14/uk-film-margaretthatcher-streep-idUSLNE7AD0DG20111114

  36. Scott (the other one)
    November 15, 2011

    I think that Streep’s chances will very much depend on how people view Thatcher, and how the picture depicts her. I happen to regard Thatcher as an evil cow who should burn in Hell, and if the movie depicts her in a positive light I will be very angry. If I were a member of the Academy, I wouldn’t vote for Streep no matter how good she is if the film portrays Thatcher fundamentally positively.

    I have always maintained that Streep will win a third Oscar, but not till she is quite old and at the end of her career, and she appears in a career-capping performance, like Jessica Tandy or Geraldine Page.

  37. bd74
    November 15, 2011

    I just saw the trailer, and it makes the movie look amazing. I can’t wait to see the movie. That said, there’s something about Meryl as an actress that I find offputting. Yes, she can do many different accents, but that seems to be her only real strong suit as an actress. I can’t say she’s had a role during the last 20 years that has blown me away.

  38. Houstonrufus
    November 15, 2011

    I’m as big fan of Streep as anyone, but I just can’t shake the feeling that Davis is the favorite to win, even if Streep is brilliant in the role. I know it’s early. But, as Julian pointed out above, Davis seems to have the narrative of winner this year. It feels like her moment. Oprah’s speech the other night kind of sealed it for me. You can’t get a more powerful campaign speech than that.

  39. sean
    November 15, 2011

    I totally don’t get the Davis buzz. It will be lost by February. She was far superior in DOUBT, not winning Lead Actress for The Help. If Streep gets the reviews, she is going to take it. The film does not need to be a best picture nominee for her to win. MONSTER, LA VIE EN ROSE, all transformative performances, all very mixed reviews, no best picture nomination. People know Streep was robbed by Bullock in 2009 and they will make sure she is rewarded. By the way, Streep IS OLDER than when Geraldine Page’s won her Oscar!

  40. Edgar
    November 15, 2011

    This role is made for the great Streep. This is her year to win!

    I had doubts on Doubt, half convinced in Julie Julia, almost there in Prada. Really convinced with The Iron Lady! If Sandra Bullock won in that so so movie, the Academy is crazy not to give the Oscar to her for this film.

    Sorry guys, Davis, Olsen, Swinton, Close, Theron have to wait for another year. This year belongs to Meryl!

  41. Christopher
    November 15, 2011

    I firmly believe that Julien the Emperor must be Glenn Close’s agent.
    There could be no other reason for the misguided criticisms of Ms. Streep’s talent. She is a legend and held in high regard in her profession because she not only does it well, she does it better than anyone else.
    Unfortunately, this is what has kept her from winning awards. Jealously is an ugly green monster. There are many bitter actress’ in Hollywood who hate her because she is the first one offered the best roles.
    As Bette Davis’s mother told her when she was being criticized: “Remember one thing: It’s the best fruit the birds pick at.”

  42. November 15, 2011

    [like it never happened, Christopher]

  43. Tero Heikkinen
    November 16, 2011

    Worst Joke of the Day:

    The Academy loved THAT CHER in the 80′s, they must love THATCHER in 2012.

    Someone had a good point, many voters must have been pissed that Bullock won. They might really push Meryl – even without seeing the picture.

  44. Sonja
    November 16, 2011

    @Tero

    That joke is indeed bad… but still a bit funny. *gg*

    I’m still not convinced Meryl could win for this, but I’m relieved she’s doing well at critics so far.
    Could change any day of course, but now it seems her nomination is very possible.

    Well, do not forget her shout out to Viola Davis at the SAG Awards 2009. I doubt she would be pissed of she’d loose to her in the end. ;)

    I just feel sorry for Glenn… Always the bridemaid, never the bride…. Or is there still hope?

  45. Tero Heikkinen
    November 16, 2011

    And here’s another bad joke:

    Alan Rickman for Best Supporting Actor.

  46. November 16, 2011

    Thatcherism. How does one capture the essence of Thatcherism?

  47. Scott (the other one)
    November 16, 2011

    Sean — You are right that Streep is (barely) older than Page was when Page won her Oscar, but my point is that Bountiful was widely regarded as a career-capping, close to end-of-life performance by Page, as was Tandy’s in Miss Daisy. In fact, Page died not long after she won her Oscar. Streep is vigourous and will presumably be around for decades more, so I don’t think she is at the same point in her career that Page and Tandy were perceived to be.

    I love Viola Davis, but I do not get the buzz about her in The Help either. It was definitely not a lead performance, and it was very low key and undramatic. Kudos to her for avoiding theatrics, but it doesn’t seem quite like the kind of performance that captures voters’ attention for a vote for lead actress.

    The threat to Streep is Michelle Williams, IMO. Not Davis.

  48. Christopher
    November 16, 2011

    Thanks for the edit Ryan! You are the Bee’s Knees.

  49. November 16, 2011

    Meryl will most definitely get a nomination but I still keep thinking that the threat to Streep will be Glenn Close and not Michelle Williams. I am reading a Marilyn bio this weekend autographed by Donald Spoto, the author. Don’t know if its any good but I’ll give it a try. The most informative Marilyn tidbit came from watching a Billy Wilder extra on TCM just earlier this year wherein he talks about getting a phone call from Ms. Monroe and she’s asking for directions on how to get to the studio to film her scenes. And Billy Wilder says that it was their 4th or 5th week of filming already. And something about a simple line she flubs again and again and so Wilder had to do re-take after re-take. She just could not get it right. I suspect she was on heavy pills by that time and was just severely intoxicated from it. I hope that they show this side of Monroe in Michelle Williams’ performance. An uncle of mine who used to be a dancer in Hollywood films a long time ago actually told me that Marilyn was a very smart woman except that she was “foggy” all the time from the pills. Tragic.

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