Film: The Iron Lady

"Watch out, looking back. Don't dig too deep—you don't know what you might find..."
Denis Thatcher's ghost, talking to Margaret

The Iron Lady is a 2011 Biopic about Margaret Thatcher starring Meryl Streep in an Oscar-winning performance as the eponymous character. The film uses the framework of Thatcher's dementia to look back on the fragments of her life through her increasingly-feeble grip on reality and memory.

For the trope, click here.


  • Death Glare: Thatcher gives an undeserved one to her cabinet just because some ministers are beginning to disagree with her on certain policies
  • Iron Lady: You Don't Say! Even as an old senile woman, talking in private to her doctor, she gives detached speeches about how people spend too much time on their feelings instead of their thoughts.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: In her old age, Thatcher is getting a bit loopy. Mostly manifested through Denis (who, we should recall, is in Maggie's head).
  • Commander Contrarian: Thatcher shoots down any criticism to her policies from her opponnets and fellow Tories. It eventually backfires after her cabinet just can't take it any more.
  • Fatal Flaw: Well to her political career anyway, Maggie's flaw is that she believes herself to be right about everyone, and her ministers aren't. Eventually her cabinet gets fed up with this, which leads to her losing the Premiership
  • Fake Memories: It's implied that what we're seeing is somewhat coloured through Maggie's rosy lenses.
  • Foreshadowing: In the scene where Denis proposes to Margaret, she exclaims, "I donʻt want to end life washing up a teacup!" Sheʻs doing exactly that in the movieʻs final scene.
    • Roughly halfway, Geoffrey Howe warns Maggie that she shouldn't test her collauges loyalty too far. Eventually after a particularly vicious "Reason You Suck" Speech, Howe resigns which sets off a chain of events that lead to Thatcher's resignation as Prime Minister rather be humiliated by loosing our election.
  • Ghost Memory: Denis.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The damage Thatcher did to industrial communities is skated over, with the protesters being shown in a fairly unsympathetic light, whilst Michael Foot is supposedly a buffoon. The film, regardless of artistic quality, is shameless hagiography from beginning to end.
  • Imaginary Friend: In the present-day segments, Thatcher is accompanied by the illusory figure of her late husband. Jim Broadbent is clearly having the time of his life playing Denis.
  • Important Haircut: As part of Margaret's New Look.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The fact that Thatcher even has dementia isn't even mentioned, despite being one of the film's most central themes.
  • Rant Inducing Slight/ "Reason You Suck" Speech: Thatcher gives a rather malicious one to her entire cabinet, just because they correctly believe that her proposed "Community Charge" is considered unfair by most people and it would be a good idea to drop it, and tell her so to her face.
  • Selective Memory: Maggie's are definitely slanted in her favor.
  • Undying Loyalty: Averted. Howe warns Maggie that she must not test the loyalty of her collauges too far. Maggie doesn't listen and eventually her cabinet turns on her after being humilitated and having their concerns and opinions shut down once too often.
  • Unreliable Narrator: There are hints that the flashbacks are an example of this—the film (i.e. Thatcher) conveniently glosses over the negative aspects of her rule. And also, young Denis is a Hollywood heartthrob.
  • The Unseen: Mark Thatcher.
  • The Falklands War: Exactly what it says on the tin.