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December 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Meryl Streep is receiving high praise for her performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady; the movie itself, not so much. Consider the closing paragraph of Betsy Sharkey’s review in the Los Angeles Times: “What helps elevate the film is the searing insight Streep brings to Thatcher’s aging; she catches every one of the emotional crosscurrents that get to the truth of the matter. But if you come expecting keen insight into the intrigues of her very long political life, or even something as simple as why the Soviets dubbed her the Iron Lady, consider a trip to the library instead.” Claudia Puig in USA Today reaches the same conclusion, writing, “Though not illuminating as a historical biopic, the film features a tour-de-force performance by Meryl Streep. Hers is a flawless portrayal of the conservative British prime minister.” And Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News says rather bluntly, “Anybody expecting to catch yet another bravura turn from Meryl Streep should be suitably impressed by the actress’ characteristic commitment to her craft. But those hoping for insight into the life and times of Margaret Thatcher herself will leave deeply disappointed.” And A.O. Scott in the New York Times suggests that many will also leave deeply confused. The movie, he notes, fails to define Thatcher “in any surprising or trenchant way. You are left with the impression of an old woman who can’t quite remember who she used to be and of a movie that is not so sure either.” But chances are, Kyle Smith intimates in the New York Post, that audiences will not be going to see the movie to learn about the historic forces of the 1970s that Thatcher attempted to hold in check. They’ll be going to see Meryl Streep — and her “ability to empathize with her characters,” he writes, “has never been more gloriously impassioned than it is in this titanic performance.”