The acting is superb. Not only does Streep deliver her customary and impeccable artistry, but her co-stars do, as well. Harry Lloyd is such an appealing young Dennis Thatcher, I nearly had a crush on him by the end of the movie. Alexandra Roach is enchanting as a young Margaret Roberts, and Jim Broadbent is well up to the task of partnering with Streep, playing a ghostly Dennis to an addled and struggling Margaret.
The disappointments are buried deep in the film's construction. The movie acts more like a Christmas pageant or a tableau than a movie, one scene appears after another, flashbacks interrupting quite predictably, but without a strong story line. I learned almost nothing about Margaret Thatcher that I did not already know.
There are allusions to unions, strikes, economic difficulties, but nearly all these are addressed with MT mini-speeches, short bursts of newsreel footage, and highly choreographed scenes with power-broker males. The scenes relating to the Falklands conflict were the best in terms of bringing history to life. But we go fairly quickly from this to MT's demise. And her demise appears to come because she is bitchy (and truly remarkably and nearly abusively so) to her cabinet. That will do it, of course, but it can't be the entire story.
I had to wonder, had Maggie been Male, would this same movie have been made? Would someone make a movie of a drunken Churchill or Ronald Reagan with Alzheimer's? I doubt it. For all the pomp surrounding the film about Great Britain's first female prime minister and despite having been directed by a woman, Iron Lady commits the age-old and oft-repeated mistake of invading a woman's life, rather than exploring it with respect. She was remarkably, undeniably, unprecedentedly powerful. And we MUST deconstruct her, mustn't we? We must not end this movie with the imperious Margaret Thatcher at the podium declaiming, the persevering woman who achieved the unthinkable achievement, or even the difficult and self-deluded politician at the end of her career--defeated, but not utterly powerless.