Amidst the zeitgeist of the world’s political unrest, it is befitting that French film director, Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, Fifth Element), brings to the screen “The Lady”, an inspiring depiction that tells the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Burma who became the country’s pro-democracy movement’s accidental leader.
Suu Kyi spent 20 years in Oxford raising her two children with her husband but returned to her country in 1988 after receiving a call that her mother had a severe stroke. This visit would intersect with the outbreak of a spontaneous revolt against 26 years of political repression and economic decline. Students and writers of this democracy movement soon ceased upon her presence to galvanize the movement that would soon propel her into the political limelight which would eventually lead to several house arrests spanning over 21 years. Suu Kyi’s release occurred only two years ago in November 2010.
“The Lady” rekindles Suu Kyi’s dramatic story that begins in 1947when she was only two years old. That same year, her father, Aung San, Burma’s national hero was assassinated just before the country gained independence from British rule to which he dedicated his life. From that point on, the film knits together chunks of time that fast forwards and rewinds on the timeline making it a bit difficult to follow unless one is familiar with the history of Burma and Suu Kyi.
To the credit of the casting director, who did an excellent job in recruiting actors that were dead-ringers for actual personages including the uncanny portrayal of Suu Kyi by Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Tomorrow never Dies, Memoirs of a Geisha); Desmond Tutu played by Ilario Bisi-Pedro as well as Jonathan Woodhouse who plays her oldest son, Alexander. “The Lady” also stars David Thewlis (Harry Potter film series; War Horse) who plays Michael Aris, an Oxford academic and also the husband of Suu Kyi.
With beautiful cinematography primarily shot in Thailand and a choice soundtrack, “The Lady” is overall an engaging film that is certainly worth seeing as a primer to a very complex subject and that it is simply difficult to make a movie of someone who is still alive and whose life is still unfolding.
“The Lady” opens in San Francisco Bay Area Landmark Theatres on April 13.