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|Index||31 reviews in total|
Ang Sang Suu Kyi is one of my most favorite political figures (I'm
probably not alone on it), I hesitated whether I should go and see this
movie, fearing it may not match my impression of Daw Ang Sang gathered
from previous news footages and biography.
It was amazing to see Michelle Yeoh as Ang Sang Suu Kyi, the act was elegantly presented, the way how Michelle put her hand on the waist while walking gracefully, reminded me so much of the Lady, everything comes natural, nothing pretentious, it's a joy to see such a great act with simple body language, it even sent me a sort of spine-tingling joy when she walked on the stage to give her first public speech at Shwe Dagon People Forum.
I think Michelle did not disappoint the Lady and the people of Myanmar.
The storyline may be oversimplified but I would still rate this movie with 9, it's hard to present the whole struggle of Daw Ang Sang in a short time, but I guess most people who go and watch this movie should already have some background of what happened in real life.
I've seen the Lady in Hong Kong and found it one of the best movies of its kind.
This is one of the best films I have seen in a long time. It was highly
entertaining, emotionally evoking and educational. I had known very
little on the situation in Bhurma, and felt the summaries I read prior
to visiting the cinema to see this film did not do justice to this
cinematic gem. I came away from the screening determined to learn more
and do what small part I could to right the wrongs portrayed in The
Lady. The setting was wonderful, and I felt the cast played their parts
marvellously. Many write ups of the film have criticised the length,
however I do not think the story could have developed to give one a
reasonable overview of the situation with a shorter script. It would be
unnecessary to follow each of the characters' developments in the film,
particularly given the length of time in question.
I would recommend this film to anyone as essential viewing, whether or not you have an interest in political affairs or not. The politics in The Lady is so simply set out and self- explanatory that anyone would understand the issues at hand.
I have to say I didn't find any wrong notes in this film at all. Performances were excellent and the way the writer pulled out the key events was deft. Crucially, the writer doesn't spoon feed you with every emotion, every key thought or motivation. The audience has to think and imagine. How would it feel to lose your father at a young age? How would it feel to build a life away from your own country and then return there to find it in turmoil? How would you respond to being asked to lead a protest to save your country, knowing the personal sacrifice that will involve? Superb drama about a real and tragic story that continues to play out.
Based on the story by Rebecca Frayn, who had spent three years
interviewing close confidantes of Aung San Suu Kyi, the narrative
provides the points of view of both Suu Kyi herself, played by Michelle
Yeoh, and her husband Michael Aris (David Thewlis), who because of her
political awakening and development, caused plenty of emotionally
painful, physical separation and time spent apart through her standing
up for and accepting her countrymen's push for democratic leadership,
after years of military rule from generalissimos Ne Win to Tan Shwe
(Agga Poechit). It also presents different perspectives both within and
outside of Burma as crises began to unfold with Suu Kyi a prisoner of
her own home and country, and Michael being outside of it trying his
best to sound out her, and Burma's plight. Then there's the sacrifice
of family for country, where a breakup of the family unit was something
inevitable in order to continue being there for her countrymen and not
abandoning them at times of need.
In a story spanning decades that moves forward and back in time, Besson has a solid hand in knowing the highlights of the many years history to translate for the big screen, going back to the 40s when Suu Kyi's father Aung San, a war and independence hero, got assassinated, right down to her emergence in politics as a force to be reckoned with, and her subsequent house arrest, right up to the recent 2007 rallies and demonstrations by monks that eventually led to a deadly crackdown. The Lady presents Besson an opportunity to move away from his relatively family friendly fare of late with the Arthur and the Invisibles series, and also to perform an about turn from the usual action flicks, for something a lot more serious in gravitas, and needless to say the importance of getting the film right in most, if not all counts, as much as a filmmaker can with the resources at his disposal.
As such, some may feel that the film is relatively lightweight in its coverage of politics, although I must add that being confined to one's home in the prominent years of one's political life doesn't make for a smooth translation on screen, as there's only so much that one can do within the fantastic recreation of Suu Kyi's lakeside home. Instead a softer, more heartfelt approach through a love story opened up Suu Kyi as a character who's a lot more down to earth, than just a democracy icon. Besson's knack for handling strong female characters couldn't be more pronounced here, with plenty of opportunities in scenes to show she does not cower even with gun barrels pointed at her face, nor accept the constant nonsense dished out by the military might.
Despite the lack of action, you can feel Luc Besson's release of glee in channeling that frustration to mocking the military top brass, from their deliberate big moments and silly gestures bordering on the comical, to their illogical superstitions, with characterization being very much in line with our esteemed ex Minister Mentor's comments in WikiLeaks. Almost all generalissimos and their underlings are ridiculously decorated, and make extremely naive calls as if nobody can see through their simple rouse. It's a story of grace versus guns, which in any other typical Besson movie it's no surprise if it comes with preference for the latter, except for The Lady which trades in for the softer power approach.
Michelle Yeoh lost quite a lot of weight in order to physically resemble the lead role, and her time spent on researching Suu Kyi was time well spent as she nailed her mimicry down to a pat. Even her lines spoken in Burmese were flawless. Not that I can understand the language, but the large percentage of Burmese audience that I've watched this with were nodding and acknowledging her diction and fluency, as well as her performance of the real life heroine of their lives. In short, they were in awe by her elegance and poise in making Suu Kyi come alive on screen. David Thewlis also shone in his role as the husband standing firmly behind her decision and to make sacrifices knowingly for the greater good, for the benefit of even more people in a country that needs his wife more than he needs her. Together they made their struggle felt, and will seek to move even the most stoic of hearts. And the actors who played the Burmese generals, you guys surely hammed it up effortlessly.
This superb film may be travelling the festival and commercial theatrical circuits now, and will probably pick up a slew of film awards along the way. But what's more important and I'm sure it'll achieve, is to bring the attention of the world towards Suu Kyi's, and Burma's continued plight that seemed to be with no end in sight. You may not be very familiar with what may have transpired over the decades of strife in Burma, but The Lady brings you up to speed with a succinctly packed historical lesson centered around one of the world's enduring icons of freedom and democracy. A definite recommendation for this wonderful effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Whilst the film-making was not the best ever, it was MORE than good
enough to convey to the viewer the awe-inspiring bravery, decency and
humanity of Aung San Suu Kyi, her family and many supporters who
suffered so much - including death.
It was a heavy, profound watch.... if you don't tear-up at at least a couple of points on this one, you are made of steel!
I disagree with another reviewer that the portrayal of the evil military mis-ruler was overdone and bordering on ridicule. I live in S.E. Asia, and i have observed those in uniforms and in possession of power, believe me it was spot-on. And lets face it, they were absolutely evil.
The parallels with Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi" are definitely apparent, and the biggest surprise is how good Michelle Yeo is in the role! Enjoy.
Making a commercial film about a struggle for human rights and
democracy is a real struggle because most audiences want entertainment
and not politics. So the producers have to find an 'angle'. In 1987, "A
World Apart" told the story of the fight against apartheid in South
Africa but through the prism of the strain that this put on ANC
activist Ruth First's relationship with her young daughter. A similar
approach is used here in this account of the life of Aung San Suu Kyi,
the eponymous lady and leader of the National League for Democracy in
the dictatorship that has ruled Burma for most of the period since
post-war independence from Britain. So it is not politics as such which
is to the fore here but Suu Kyi's relationship with her husband, Oxford
academic Michael Aris, and most especially the regime's brutal refusal
to allow Aris to see his wife one last time when he was dying of
prostate cancer. It is a gut-wrenchingly sad tale.
Malaysian-born actress Michelle Yeoh - a Bond girl in "Tomorrow Never Dies" and pugilist star of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" - looks perfect in the leading role, giving a performance which, while often understated, is deeply moving. David Thewlis (various "Harry Potter" films and "The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas") is very effective as the long-suffering husband. The exotic locations and local faces in Thailand serve the movie well and original music by the French Eric Serra plus some Mozart enhance the emotional power of the work. It is perhaps no surprise that the script for what is in essence a love story comes from a female writer - the British Rebecca Frayn - but one might not expect the identity of the director for this Anglo-French film: Luc Besson, best known for such action movies as "Nikita", "Leon" and "The Fifth Element".
"The Lady" may be a bit one-dimensional and lack nuance, but it highlights a long struggle for human rights that is not sufficiently well-known and the timing of its release (I saw it in January 2012) is poignant. When filming started, Suu Kyi was still under house arrest, as she had been in total for some 15 years, but by the time the film was finished she had been released. At the end of the movie, the iron grip of the regime and the number of political prisoners are highlighted but, in the weeks around the film's release, the generals instituted a series of liberalisation measures including the freeing of most political prisoners. If all this augurs an era of genuine democracy in Burma, "The Lady" will be a wonderful testimony to the power of personal courage and sacrifice to effect political change.
It's an absolute success: Luc Besson has succeeded to bring you to the
Burma through a deeply humanistic and political involved history. Then
the two principal actors (Michelle Yeoh & David Thewlis) play very well
their roles and let you feel their passion in the private life and
their struggle for democracy and peace in the social life.
There are some similarities with another masterpiece of Besson "Leon: The Professional": both are in admiration of "courage and love". Aung San Suu Kyi like Leon is an alone hero fighting against tyranny and organized corrupted power. If the effort of Leon to protect the young innocent Mathilda made you feel sympathy for this individual, undoubtedly you will admire this brave woman her comfort herself and her family to defend the whole nation from the dictatorship of the military regime.
My wife and I really enjoyed the movie. The Parisian cinema was almost full and at the end gave the impression that the spectators were satisfied .One row ahead of us there was a senior couple, the old man asked: "darling did you like it for the second time?" The lady answered: "sure, could we come again to watch it for a third time?!"
The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, is played
wonderfully by Michelle Yeoh. I knew little about this famous person as
I suspect many also didn't. The movie provides you with historical
information you should be happy to learn. This kind of movie is a
departure from what we are accustomed to see from director Luc Besson,
and it is a pleasant discovery. Yeoh delivers a beautiful performance
and so does Davis Thewlis, who plays her husband.
The movie is a truly beautiful love story, one that touches on the human spirit as few movies do. It is inspirational, nothing less. You will be moved by the story. The movie depicts the life of a people under military dictatorship and how the whole nation rallies behind the person that was destined to lead it despite all odds. You are likely to be following Aung San Suu Kyi ongoing real life story from that point on, as she is still very much the people's leader today. I could not recommend this movie more strongly.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Luc Besson, best known La Femme Nikita and Leon, here directs an
admirably earnest biopic about Burmese political activist Aung San Suu
Kyi. The film is a real change of pace for both Besson and his leading
lady Michelle Yeoh, who swaps her usual high-kicking woman-of-action
persona for something much subtler and more affecting. The Lady has its
flaws but nevertheless manages to be a worthy and often moving account
of a remarkable life.
The story begins in 1947 when Suu Kyi is only two years old. Her father Aung San is nominally in charge of Burma as the country's hard-fought independence from colonial rule draws near. However, he his cabinet ministers are denied their moment of triumph when they are ruthlessly assassinated, plunging the country into a long and downward spiral of political turmoil which leads ultimately to the establishment of a tyrannical military regime. Fast forward to 1988, where adult Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh) lives in Oxford with her husband Michael Aris (David Thewlis) and their two sons, Kim (Jonathan Raggett) and Alexander (Jonathan Woodhouse). Suu Kyi is summoned back to Burma when her mother suffers a stroke. Initially she intends merely to stay for a week or two in order to nurse her mother through her time of need. However, during her visit Suu Kyi finds Burma to be a land of extraordinary violence, oppression and misery. She witnesses corrupt soldiers brutally killing student protesters and sees desperate civilians demonstrating for their rights, using old photos of her father to represent their cause. It isn't long before Suu Kyi is approached by the people and asked to lead them in their fight for a democratic and peaceful Burma.
Yeoh is excellent in this film. Not only does she bear a remarkable resemblance to the real Aung San Suu Kyi, she also shows a surprising emotional range in the film's more intimate scenes. The only weakness with Yeoh's performance is that her enunciation is a little wooden during her English-language scenes. Thewlis also does well as her stiff upper-lipped British husband, an equally remarkable man who is forced to bury his inner anguish because he recognises the importance of what his wife is doing for her country. The Lady comes slightly undone in two areas. One is that Besson has never been noted for his sincere and reverent style of film-making; he's on much firmer ground delivering cool and stylized action. Here, he handles the scenes of street violence and military manoeuvring with typical verve, but a certain awkwardness hangs over some of the quieter moments. The other drawback is the rather cartoonish portrayal of the characters in the Burmese military regime. Although widely regarded as bad men in real-life, the way they are presented here makes them seem almost like Bond-style super-villains. The only thing missing is a baddie's lair and a scowling white pussycat perched on the head honcho's lap. A bit more nuance and depth would not have gone amiss in this department. Overall, The Lady a solid and well-made biopic about a very inspirational figure. Flaws aside, it goes some way to ward making sense of a senseless political situation and tries hard to present its large subject in a manageable bite. There's a good chance that the first thing you will do after watching the film is go home and Google "Aung San Suu Kyi". If that's so, then the film has immediately achieved two of its worthiest goals to educate and inspire
Politically, the late eighties and nineties were the most hopeful
period in recent history. Throughout the world, especially in Eastern
Europe and Latin America but also in Africa and the Far East,
dictatorial regimes were giving way to democracy. Activists such as
Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela were exchanging their
prison cells for their countries' Presidential Palaces, and it seemed
that Burma (I will not call it "Myanmar"), which had been governed by a
repressive military junta since 1962, would be the next democratic
success story. Opposition to the regime was led by Aung San Suu Kyi,
the beautiful and charismatic daughter of a national hero who enjoyed
the devoted support of most of her compatriots. It seemed inevitable
that "people power" would sweep away the junta, just as it had swept
away the Marcos regime in the Philippines and the Communist
dictatorships of Eastern Europe.
And yet this did not happen; the Burmese regime succeeded in maintaining its iron grip on power. Perhaps the reason was that, unlike many other tyrannies, it lacked any recognisable ideology beyond an Orwellian vision of "a boot stamping on a human face, forever". Communism collapsed when it became clear that it could not perform its ostensible ideological function, the protection of the economic interests of the working man. This in turn provoked the collapse of right-wing dictatorships like Pinochet's in Chile or Suharto's in Indonesia, which had justified their existence by claiming to defend their countries against Communism. Apartheid collapsed when it became clear that the economic interests of black and white South Africans were so closely intertwined as to make nonsense of the idea of "separate development". Than Shwe's junta, lacking any ideology which could be discredited in this way, could resist the forces of change for as long as it could maintain the loyalty of its troops and its own will to power.
"The Lady" depicts the life of Suu Kyi, known as "the lady" to her followers. It is not a complete biography, as it shows little of her early life, apart from the assassination of her father Aung San when she was three years old. The main action begins in 1988, when she was in her mid-forties and returned to Burma to visit her ailing mother, having previously been living in England with her husband Michael Aris, an Oxford professor. Her visit coincided with an uprising against military rule, which was followed by a brief period of liberalisation. She was persuaded to lead the country's nascent pro-democracy movement, and her party, the National League for Democracy, won a convincing majority in the 1990 parliamentary election. The military, however, refused to recognise the result and reimposed martial law. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest and all political campaigning was forbidden. The junta seemed quite unmoved by international condemnation; even the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Suu Kyi in 1993 could not persuade them to release her.
The film was directed by Luc Besson, who was perhaps not the ideal director, as he had previously best been known for making action movies such as "Nikita". He had made a previous biography of a national political heroine, "Joan of Arc", but even there the action scenes are the best thing about the film. It is perhaps therefore unsurprising that "The Lady" is rather slow and ponderous and shows signs of having been made by a director unused to this style of film-making. Visually, however, the film is often attractive, with effective contrasts between the green, tropical lushness of South-East Asia- these scenes were shot in Thailand rather than Burma itself- and the grey stone of Oxford, a city often seen in the snow.
To be fair to Besson, he appears to have been deeply committed to this film, and it is possible that without his commitment it might never have been made. He was fortunate in having a leading lady, Michelle Yeoh, who was just as committed as he was; indeed, it was she who persuaded him to take on the project. Yeoh here gets to show, as she did in "Memoirs of a Geisha", that she is more than just a Bond Girl, more than just a kung-fu action heroine. She has the advantage of bearing a striking resemblance to the woman she is portraying.
Yeoh described the film as "an incredible love story", and the element most emphasised in the film is the relationship between Suu Kyi and her husband, from whom she was separated for many years. She would have been free at any time to leave Burma and rejoin him and their two sons in England, but always refused to do so, knowing that if she ever left the country she would never be permitted to return. David Thewlis as Aris is perhaps even better than Yeoh, playing him as an unworldly academic and devoted family man who nevertheless selflessly insists that his wife remain in Burma, knowing that if she leaves the country this will be a great blow to the pro-democracy movement. His premature death from cancer, possibly brought on or exacerbated by the stress of his situation, is the film's most tragic moment.
Suu Kyi's house arrest has now been lifted and Burma is now ruled by a civilian government, although it remains to be seen whether it will evolve into a genuine democracy; the elections in 2010 were widely denounced as neither free nor fair, and the new government as a mere front for a continuing military dictatorship. The expulsion of Michelle Yeoh from the country last year would suggest that the authorities are still very touchy about criticism. The film, however, performs the valuable service of reminding the world of the problems of a country which was for too long one of the last bastions of tyranny. I certainly preferred it to "The Iron Lady", the other recent biopic of a major female political figure. 7/10
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