Although trade press were not invited to be among them, UK critics and commentators have been ripping up column inches with their reviews and impressions of The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep.
UK media is responding with general warmth to The Iron Lady, a portrait of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher starring Meryl Streep.
Although distributor Pathe took the unusual step of preventing trade press from seeing the film, some 50 outlets were invited to see the film on Monday night, the day before a buyers screening in London showing the final product to international distributors who had previously committed to the film.
The published reviews and response follow a similar theme - Streep is spectacular, the film less so.
Left leaning UK national newspaper The Guardian gives The Iron Lady three stars, describing the film as a “breezy, whistle-stop tour through the unstable nitro glycerine of Thatcher’s life and times,” going on to describe Streep as 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.”
The right wing Daily Telegraph is more enthusiastic, describing Streep as “splendid, giving a detailed, authoritative performance that goes way beyond accurate impersonation to evoke Thatcher’s spirit. A brave stab at a contemporary life, and even with its flaws it does Margaret Thatcher a certain grudging justice. Awards should be coming Streep’s way; yet her brilliance rather overshadows the film itself.”
Baz Bambigoye, writing in The Daily Mail, predicts that Streep’s portrayal will “come to be seen as magnificent portrait of Lady Thatcher.”
The Evening Standard’s Liz Hoggard, one of a select group of British women columnists invited for an exclusive dinner on saturday night hosted by director Phyllida Lloyd and Meryl Streep, describes Streep’s performance as “disturbing. Just like Helen Mirren in The Queen, she makes Maggie a radiant figure. I found myself rooting for the brainy grocer’s daughter as she battled through the snooty Tory ranks.”
She refers to other elements of the film as being “cartoonish and unsettling,” adding that “you could easily lose patience with the frantic plotting.”
Meanwhile Empire’s editor at large Nev Pierce tweeted that The Iron Lady is a “historic patchwork woven around the astonishing Streep. Closer to All That Jazz than it is The Queen. Very moving.”
Former colleagues of Thatcher were less than reverential. Tory cabinet member Norman Tebbit wrote that Thatcher was “never, in my experience, the half-hysterical, over-emotional, over-acting woman portrayed by Meryl Streep.”
Tim Bell, one of Thatcher’s key PR advisers, described the film as a “non-event” and said he had no interest in seeing it.