A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Iron Lady follows the life of Margaret Thatcher from a humble grocer's daughter to the United Kingdom's prime minister. A few violent images are shown -- notably of the Falklands War and of upset demonstrators, as well as of a character being killed by a car bomb -- and in one news-footage scene, the bare breasts of a woman in a crowd are visible. Language is limited to "bloody" and "damn," and romance consists of a few sweet embraces, dances, and kisses between the Thatchers. The film's depiction of major historical and political events may not hook most teens, but this biopic offers a valuable lesson in both British and women's history.
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What's the story?
Near the end of her life, an aged and occasionally senile Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) sees and speaks to her late husband, Dennis (Jim Broadbent). Her conversations with his ghost lead to flashbacks to her early life (young Margaret is played by Alexandra Roach), from the day she tells her grocer father that she's been admitted to Oxford to meeting Dennis (played by Harry Lloyd as a younger man) at a Tory dinner party to her political rise as the only woman to ever become prime minister of the United Kingdom. An outsider by gender and class, Thatcher makes unpopular decisions but remains single-mindedly steadfast in her approach to leading the country.
Is it any good?
Streep lives up to the ridiculously high expectations audiences have of her in pretty much any film -- greatness. Director Phyllida Lloyd's quasi-biopic is in fact a collaboration of talented women, including herself at the helm (she also made the cheery musical Mamma Mia!), screenwriter Abi Morgan (who also wrote the critically acclaimed Shame) and, of course, Streep in the spotlight role, transforming herself once again.
It's not that she nails the accent or posture or hairstyle but that she's able to make one of the most polarizing political figures in recent world history a sympathetic underdog. There's a brilliant shot of the young Thatcher wearing a hat and carrying her signature purse walking into Parliament among a sea of men; it doesn't matter where you are on the political spectrum, you feel the impact of her presence. Broadbent and Lloyd are notable as the elder and younger Mr. Thatchers, but Streep is the reason audiences will go -- and stay -- despite some underwhelming montages and under-explored aspects of the (in)famous PM's life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Iron Lady depicts Margaret Thatcher's rise to power. How is she portrayed? How can she inspire other young women?
The scenes between Margaret and her late husband are all imagined, so the movie isn't a standard "biopic." Does that matter? Why do you think the filmmakers chose to take that route?
Do you have to agree with Margaret Thatcher's politics to enjoy the movie? Do you think it's out to convey any specific agenda?
- In theaters: December 30, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: April 10, 2012
- Cast: Anthony Head, Jim Broadbent, Meryl Streep
- Director: Phyllida Lloyd
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, History
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violent images and brief nudity
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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