"The Iron Lady" — The same problems that plagued "La Vie en Rose," starring Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf, exist in this biopic of Margaret Thatcher, with Meryl Streep playing the former British prime minister. While both films feature strong performances from strong actresses playing strong, real-life women, the scripts are weakened by going strictly by the numbers. Sure, Streep reliably nails her impression of Thatcher — the hair, the voice, the steely demeanor. The way she dresses down her deputy during a crowded cabinet meeting is just withering. But the film from Phyllida Lloyd (who directed Streep in the ABBA musical "Mamma Mia!"), from a script by Abi Morgan, reduces this high-profile life to a greatest-hits collection of historic moments. Here's Thatcher's first election to public office; there's her ascension to the prime minister's post, the first (and, so far, only) time a woman achieved that rank. Here's the Falkland Islands conflict, there's the Berlin Wall coming down. Through it all, her beloved husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent), stood by her side until — and after — his death. One of the more facile and predictable narrative devices in "The Iron Lady" features an aged, fragile Thatcher seemingly talking to herself when in reality she's speaking to her deceased husband, a symptom of the dementia that's gnawing at her once-formidable brain. This inevitably sets up a flashback to one of the aforementioned historical events. You just know that if Thatcher is by herself in her lonely, empty home, Broadbent will pop up to amuse and cajole her. It happens so often you can predict it, which erodes its emotional impact. PG-13 for some violent images and brief nudity. 105 min. Two stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic