Luc Besson directs this biopic about Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, played in the film by Michelle Yeoh. Suu Kyi spent almost 15 years under house arrest for leading a non-violent uprising against Burma's long-standing military dictatorship. With the unwavering support of her husband, Oxford academic Michael Aris (David Thewlis), Suu Kyi sacrifices the peace and security of family life in England to lead the struggle to bring democracy to her native country, and put an end to the violence, corruption and human rights abuses that have come to characterise Burmese politics.
Director Luc Besson proves for the umpteenth time that he’s not one to be restricted by genre with The Lady
. It’s a film that tells the real life story of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel-prize winning campaigner who fought for democracy in Burma. The film starts back in her childhood, before picking up with her happily married in England. By this time, she’s played by Michelle Yeoh, with David Thewlis stepping into the shoes of her husband.
Events conspire to take her back to Burma, though, and The Lady then concerns itself as much with the separation of husband and wife as it does the political situation. That makes it a bumpy film, and sometimes an unfocused one. Yet Besson’s intentions are so strong, and his meticulous detail so obvious, that the film’s issues are easy to forgive. Furthermore, Michelle Yeoh clearly devoted herself to the lead role, comfortably giving the best performance of her career. David Thewlis? He’s excellent, too, as always.
There’s clearly a better film to be made out of the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, but that doesn’t make The Lady a bad one. What’s more, thanks to Yeoh’s magnificent central turn, even in its weaker moments, there’s usually something of interest happening. The Lady has problems, certainly, but it has some genuine ambition, too. --Jon Foster