Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Video review: "The Iron Lady"
With a lot of biopics I see starring a tremendous actor in an Oscar-worthy turn, the performance often trumps the movie around it.
Movie stars by their definition get the most screen time and the best lines of dialogue. But when it's a film about a historical figure, with lots of big events and emotions, oftentimes the performer can be so dominant that the story can't get any air. Think Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote" or Jamie Foxx in "Ray."
"The Iron Lady" follows in this tradition, featuring Meryl Streep in a role so meaty -- as seminal British prime minister Margaret Thatcher -- that the rest of the movie occasionally turns to mush.
Streep is so good, she carries the picture during the insipid stretches, such as when she's battling her government underlings like a schoolmarm fussing at some ill-behaved boys in knee pants.
The film reaches a brighter note when Thatcher is communing with the spirit of her deceased husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent). It's not delusion; they both acknowledge that he's dead. It's just that neither one wants to lose whatever argument they're currently having.
In the end, "The Iron Lady" is worth watching just to see the way Streep nails the iconic Thatcher, from that swoop of sprayed hair to the commanding screech of a voice. There's greatness in that performance, if not the movie that contains it.
Video extras are fairly minimalist, and are the same for both DVD and Blu-ray editions.
There's a making-of featurette and four mini-featurettes: “Recreating the Young Margaret Thatcher,” “Battle in the House of Commons,” “Costume Design: Pearls and Power Suits,” and “Denis: The Man Behind the Woman.”
Call me old-fashioned, but I think the real Margaret Thatcher would deem this video release as lacking proper ambition.
Movie: 3 stars out of four
Extras: 2 stars