Thatcher is to Britain what Ronald Reagan is to conservatives in the United States. Both evoke strong feelings about their terms in office and both have devout defenders as well as determined critics.
The film is a biopic of the controversial leader and true to form, Streep seems to immerse herself in her character.
She both looks and acts the part as the film follows Thatcher’s rise to power, her term in office from 1979 to 1990, coinciding with the Reagan years, and they aftermath as the “Iron Lady” as she’s known struggled with her legacy.
Although the film won’t be released until later this year, it’s already causing a huge debate in the UK.
“She was never, in my experience, the half-hysterical, over-emotional, over-acting woman portrayed by Meryl Streep,” said former Thatcher cabinet member and Conservative Party Head Norman Tebbit, writing in London’s The Telegraph newspaper.
“To judge the film from its trailer, they confined their inquiries to the [liberal] Daily Mirror [newspaper] and perhaps Tim Bell’s public relations firm.”
Lord Bell was one of Thatcher’s key PR advisers, and he too, has railed against the film in the conservative Telegraph.
“I have no interest in seeing it. I don’t need a film to remind me of my experiences of her. It is a non-event… It won’t make any difference to her place in history of the fact of what she did,” he wrote.
Despite the take on film’s substance, Streep has drawn raves for her portrayal.
“Streep has the imbasilisk stare; the tilted, faintly predatory posture. Her delivery, too, is eerily good – a show of demure solicitude, invariably overtaken by steely, wild-eyed stridency,” according to a review in London’s Guardian newspaper.
The trailer right off the bat shows what appear to be political consultants deconstructing Thatcher’s image.
The scene cuts to Streep as Thatcher; she looks a bit like Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland.”
“I may be persuaded to surrender the hat,” she says. “The pearls, however, are absolutely non-negotiable,” she adds with a smirk, before adding with an icy glare, “that’s a term we should want to strike.”
Check out the UK trailer for the movie.