Movie review: The Iron Lady

By Columbus Alive
From the January 12, 2012 edition

In movie circles, films like “The Iron Lady” are known as “Oscar bait” — in that they seem built from the ground up to collect awards.

There’s no doubt that Meryl Streep’s performance in the biopic of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will (rightfully) make her an Oscar frontrunner.

It’s a shame that a great performance is wrapped in this unfocused mess.

The narrative is powered by flashbacks from an elderly Thatcher — a convenient way to pop in on various points in her life, but inconvenient for an audience trying to take away anything.

Politically fluffy given the controversies around Thatcher’s legacy, the film also does little to explore her rise in male-dominated politics.

Streep’s performance, on the other hand, is transformational. It is certainly the chief reason to see the film, and quite nearly the only one.

Director Phyllida Lloyd (“Mamma Mia”) falls into the same biopic problems that dragged down Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar.” It’s a fantastic performance in a flawed film.