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Spine-tingling joy to watch this movie!
Pazu Kong5 February 2012
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.
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Moving story of personal courage for political purpose
rogerdarlington22 January 2012
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.
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If you only watch one film this year, ensure its "The Lady"
David O'Mahony29 April 2012
Warning: 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.
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Elegant story-telling, powerful film
Colin Ward11 February 2012
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.
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A Nutshell Review: The Lady
DICK STEEL1 March 2012
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.
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Thoroughly evocative and compelling
ann-asmcm28 December 2011
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.
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A good film to start knowing about the situation in Burma
c-britanico9 October 2012
I personally like biopics & this one was very helpful in giving me a glimpse of what's happening in Burma. Much has been said about the fight for liberty in this country as well as about the fierceness of Suu Kyi & watching this film made me more interested with how our counterparts in Burma are working towards their full liberation.

Suu Kyi's situation reminds me of our very own, Cory Aquino, who herself was an icon of democracy.

The movie gave me an insight of Suu Kyi's struggles & sacrifices just like Mrs. Aquino herself. One thing that the movie did is for viewers to appreciate the liberty we currently have & the closeness we will feel to Suu Kyi.

Great acting chops for Michelle Yeoh & David Thewlis. I wonder why they were not even nominated for an Oscar. Magnificent cinematography too.

A highly recommended film.
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A story that must be told and Michelle Yeoh is terrific
phd_travel22 August 2012
With such a fascinating subject matter this movie would have been an interesting watch no matter who directed it but I think Luc Besson did a good job showing he is more than just an action thriller director. Of course there are some violent parts showing the brutality of the Military that are in your face and exciting as expected. He handled the private woman and her personal sacrifice and bravery in a tasteful manner.

Michelle Yeoh does a brilliant job. It's a really good fit for her. She is good in both the intimate moments dealing with her family and in her dignified public persona. She deserves an acting nomination for her work. David Thewlis is well cast as a disheveled looking professor type.

The subtitles are a major part of the movie with lots of dialog in Burmese. But it's still easy to follow the plot which doesn't jump around too much and is well laid out. It deserves a place among the better political true life movies. While not as dramatic or gut wrenching as "Cry Freedom" or "the Killing Fields", it still delivers a powerful message. Those interested can also watch "Beyond Rangoon" with Patricia Arquette which is a more adventure style portrayal of the events in Burma.

Wish the movie could have shown more recent events including her recent release. Reminds us there is still a long way to go in Burma.

Touching and a must watch.
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A must see movie
John Raymond Peterson12 June 2012
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.
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Lengthy but absorbing biopic about Aung San Suu Kyi's struggle for a democratic Burma.
Jonathon Dabell1 January 2012
Warning: 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
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in admiration of "courage and love"
Amir Rayat Nazari4 December 2011
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?!"

P.S: It's a shame that she as the Myanmar leader has not provided the relevant response to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. It is depressing to see how an earlier hero of peace, could become silence and indifferent in the treatment of its Rohingya minority, who according to the UN have suffered ethnic cleansing and violent attacks by Myanmar's military forces. The reel life is sadly more cruel than the movie!
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The indomitable strength of one woman.
Tim Johnson1 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Diane and I saw this beautiful, powerful film yesterday and its substance and images are recurring thoughts. I was not sure what to expect of a movie about such an important person in contemporary history but I was immediately absorbed by the sequences of very strong and confronting scenes; scenes that even in the most violent movies would be expected but not in a biographical story such as The Lady.

The violence of the military is a percolating presence throughout the film and my thoughts immediately ran into those marvelous Latin American films of the Eighties such as Salvador where the viewer is confronted by the sordid violence of the military's conservatism. As an Australian I have followed Aung San Suu Kyi's life but, because of the violence, the wrenching truth of its purity escaped me; that she was confronted with it continually was spared us and as a result I was truly shocked by her braveness in the face of such mindless brutality. Therefore, my admiration for her strength in the face of this mindlessness knows no bounds.

People may feel that the true meaning of the film was the passion woven through the script of Aung's love for her husband and he for her. I do not think that I am disclosing any part of the film that I should keep quiet about because it is a central aspect of the film from beginning to end. To me that is the great theme of the movie; it is like the wash that a painter applies to a canvas before painting. The viewer is presented with this wonderful love story and on the surface is this terrible, violent bestiality occurring all around them. The Lady is a brilliant film, acted by a brilliant cast and it should be seen.
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Successful Michelle Yeoh and Luc Besson collaboration would not have reached its height without David Thewlis
Harry T. Yung12 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Since 1905, there have been 15 women Nobel Prize winners (three sharing in 2011). The loftiest stature has to be attributed to Mother Teresa. Aung San Suu Kyi, "The Lady" comes very close behind. Luc Besson, generally not exactly known for his modesty, intimated in an interview how humbled he was in his first meeting with her in her house in Burma, coming face to face with Goodness personified.

Luc Besson is well known for his appetite to tackle ANY genre (from historical epic to outlandish science fiction, and everything in between), and he has well demonstrated his virtuosity and flare. Filming the story of such a living legend as Aung San Suu Kyi, however, he is somewhat subdued. This is understandable, because of the respect. Uncharacteristically restrained in his visuals, he wisely takes advantage of Eric Serra's excellent original score, to wonderful effects. As well, rather than focusing on heroism in political struggle, he leans more towards presenting a moving mature love story that elevates the word sacrifice to a new height.

Absolutely everything hinges, however, on the titular role. Although not many people may know, Michelle Yeoh has long proved that there is much more to her than a premium Amazon, with "The Soong Sisters" (1997). It didn't take long for people trying to cast the role of Aung San Suu Kyi to unanimously agree that Yeoh was born for it. And she is proved them right, convincingly. Her job is exceptionally difficult when you compare it with a majority of successful bio pics in the last decade, where the protagonist is literally history (Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Truman Capote, J. Edgar Hoover…). Aung San Suu Kyi is in every sense a living legend. People see her frequently in live coverage. The courage and determination is probably quite similar in all heroic figures. But the grace and elegance of "The Lady", even under the acutest of pressures, is unique. Yeoh's portrayal is absolutely flawless, putting her in the same class as Helen Mirren's Queen Elizabeth II and Morgan Freeman's Nelson Mandela.

Yeoh's performance, however superb, would not shine as bright without the other half of this love story referred to earlier, or, as one critic aptly calls it, "a story of the man behind the woman". Cannes's Best Actor (1993) David Thewlis is with Yeoh every step of the way in portraying her "most indulgent husband" Michael Aris who does not just support unwaveringly his wife's dream of a free Burma (which would have been remarkable), but embraces it as his own. But there's not just the love between husband and wife, but also love in a happy family, including the two sons Alexander (Jonathan Woodhouse) and Kim (Jonathan Raggett). The most touch scene would have to be the father and two sons receiving the Nobel Prize for the mother who is held in house arrest in Burma - Aung San Suu Kyi listening on the radio to Alexander's acceptance speech on her behalf. That is when it become quite difficult to contain one's tears.
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The Steel Orchid
gradyharp10 March 2013
Despite the flaws in this dramatized biopic of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi - far too long at 132 minutes, more emphasis on a family drama than an important change in Burma to Myanmar, etc - this film as written by Rebecca Frayn and directed by Luc Beeson (Taken, Transporter, La Femme Nikita, etc) deserves our attention in that it helps explain the volatile situation that existed in Burma from 1947 to the present. In brief it is the story of Aung San Suu Kyi as she becomes the core of Burma's democracy movement, and her relationship with her husband, Oxford professor and writer Michael Aris.

Opening in 1947 we meet Aung San Suu Kyi as a child bidding farewell to her father, General Aung San, a hero of the Burmese democratic movement, who is then assassinated. Aung San Suu Kyi (Michelle Leoh) escapes to England, matures, marries an Oxford professor Michael (David Thewlis) and has two sons (Jonathan Raggett and Jonathan Woodhouse). The film then jumps to 1988 when, due to the fact that her mother is critically ill, Suu Kyi returns to Burma to care for her mother; once there she observes the student protests to the military regime headed by a dummy superstitious dictator, and as the heir to her father's fame in the country as a leader of the people she decides to stay and follow the encouragement of the protesters to be their leader. That decision places here in danger and eventual house arrest, and with the love of her husband and children as support she stays the course and becomes the leader of the democratic movement of the country now called Myanmar. The commitment to her cause by her husband (who discovers in Suu Kyi's absence that he has prostate cancer and a limited life span) offers her strength and she gains world attention when she is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

THE LADY is more an epic love story about how an extraordinary couple and family sacrifice their happiness at great human cost for a higher cause than it is a full study of the persona of Aung San Suu Kyi Much is missing, especially the period in Burma from 1947 to 1988, and the maturing of Suu Kyi into a hero. But the film does emphasize the peaceful quest of the woman who is at the core of Burma's democracy movement and the indomitable love relationship and strength of marriage and family due to their undying support of her mission. Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis are excellent and the film has touches of beauty that are memorable (as Suu Kyi listens on a portable radio to the Nobel Prize speech read by her son the music that is so much a part of Suu Kyi's life is her playing of the Pachelbel Canon accompanied by a small orchestra over a distance of thousands of miles). It is a touching tribute to a great lady of peace.

Grady Hap
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Important story
onumbersix6 June 2012
Burma, this obscure country where a bloody military regime has been reigning for the last half century whole our lives go on so peaceably here. The Lady is the ongoing story of this little intrepid woman, mother of two young boys, who took on her destiny to light the torch of democracy in this deep darkness. Her name: Aung San Suu Kyi (commonly known as Su). Probably, this is the first time you heard of her. Remember her name. It will surely resonate in history as a certain Gandhi did in the last century. She resisted peacefully to this great oppression thus forfeiting her family and personal happiness.

This film is important for making this struggle known to the world. The film itself is tightly strung: whether it's the portrayal of the brutality of the regime in power, the torments of this woman at odds between the future of her people and her responsibilities to her family and the difficult mobilisation of the international community reticent to intervene.

A film to see absolutely!
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Quite excellent, a real appealing story and vivid life.
Jihang Ye11 February 2012
Although this film were not produced by the native people, it would never diminish its excellence; anyway, how can you rely on the Tyranny government release those film-makers and politic prisoners to produce this film? The lady by Yeong was well presented, behave properly to reflect the path of Lady, who was fighting all her life for freedom and democracy; it has been quite a long time since I felt excited and moved by a movie. The script itself of The Lady is quite attractive, the legendary life of Suu Kyi made us realize, there indeed exist some people, who can fight for the freedom of their country instead of focusing on their own benefits. Suu Kyi sacrificed a lot during her life, including a large part of her family life after marriage; but she still insisted regardless of the hardship in her arrest. Moreover, Miss Yeong also performed quite well and expressed the very exact characters of Suu Kyi in the film: love, patience, tolerance, artistic and calm. Perhaps it comes from her careful preparation for this film in the last 3 years. But the end of the movie is kind of abruptness, I don't quite catch its meaning; perhaps it can develop better. All in all, highly recommended! Excellent movie!
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One of the Last Bastions of Tyranny
James Hitchcock13 January 2012
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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A film about a person with transcendental love for her country
Gordon-1131 July 2013
This film tells the life of the revered and brave politician who keeps on fighting for her people.

It is not easy to condense years of events in a two hour film, but "The Lady" successfully carries the gist of what happened in Ang Sang Suu Kyi's fight for her country. Born as the daughter of the general who founded the country, she was in a uniquely privileged position to bring about change. Her remarkable bravery was well portrayed, such as standing up against dozens of soldiers with machine guns. Her enormous dedication to her people is so touching, and the film touched me deeply in the last half hour. Not only that, the inclusion of ethnic minorities in the film also deserves praise, even though it might have just been added for cinematic effect. I think the director did a great job in creating this film, successfully showing how Ang Sang Suu Kyi has transcendental love for her country.
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Poignant, slow-burning human drama
Leofwine_draca28 June 2013
Luc Besson takes a change of pace for this slow-moving biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's most famous daughter and a woman whose life became symbolic of that country's struggle against a repressive military junta. For those who know nothing about Suu Kyi, the most significant part of her story involves her being placed under house arrest for many years, so adrenaline junkies should look elsewhere.

This story is mannered, simple and rich in atmosphere. It's not a political thriller with super-fast cutting and editing between characters; instead, it's an often poignant exploration of courage and decency in the face of oppression. There's a kind of slow-burning intensity beneath the surface nonetheless, something that keeps you watching and which makes for a compelling journey despite the lack of incident.

Michelle Yeoh was born to play the part of Suu Kyi, and she performs admirably in the role, capturing the woman's indomitable spirit through subtlety and carefully-crafted mannerisms. David Thewlis, as her long-suffering husband, is the human heart of the story and his tragic tale is full of emotion.

Although the violent acts of the Burmese soldiers form the backdrop of the tale, this is a film about people, about character and the choices we make in our lives. I particularly liked the way that the film refuses to preach or eulogise about Suu Kyi's character; she's certainly no saint, and watching her choose her country over her family is quietly devastating in its own way.
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We choose the battles we fight.
Henry Yow Jee Yong20 June 2013
The movie should be watched because:

1. It is based on a true story which should be told.

2. The movie teaches us that one people can inspire the world,and a group of dedicated people sooner or later can change the world.

3. Great things can be achieved but great sacrifices will be made.

4. Great acting.

5. For when we are standing in our righteousness,there is nothing to fear even death.

Memorable quote: "Please Use Your Liberty to Promote Ours". Aung San Suu Kyi
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The Steel Orchid or Burmas First Lady as Told in this film?
paul david10 May 2012
Nobody should criticise the drama directing or entertainment value of a film like this which offers an intimate insight into the struggle of one human being to fulfil a humanitarian cause for her country, Mynanmar.

Quite by chance, I watched WE yesterday, another love story with a twist directed by Madonna. As for the Lady, both Michelle Yeogh and David Threwlis are excellent throughout in the two leading roles. the film is as much about their devotion to their each other as it is to the cause of Burma (or Mynanmar if you like).

What disappointed me was that there was no translation for whenever Burmese was spoken in the movie and so I had no idea what was being said. furthermore, the end credits were in French and I could not understand them either.

Considering the political nature of the movie and the profile of the woman in focus, I thought it was a surprisingly unpolitical film and the Burmese Generals came across as a bunch of puffs who had no idea to connect with the people they ruled and controlled.

I also agree that the ending was rushed after Mikeys death and more time could have been spent to balance the story to the present day but that is the directors prerogative and I am not criticising in any way.

I remember the Ghandi movie and as much as I liked this movie, sorry, the overall quality of this movie cannot be compared to Ghandi.

Terrific film, have a few hankies at the ready and be ready to grab a hand or two when things taken a sudden turn!
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A reflection on democracy
yukiyuki32427 April 2012
To put it simply, this movie is good for self-reflection : do not take democracy as granted.

I am a merely a Hong Kong guy. As you may or may not know, HK is now under the control of the China PRC government since 1997.

HK people have been dreaming of universal suffrage to elect their own chief executive using their own votes since then.

The truth is, PRC does all its possible way to prevent universal suffrage to happen in HK.

And the worse is, HK does not have Aung San Suu Kyi. Personally I don't even believe there will be one in the future.

Burma has Aung San Suu Kyi. China has Liu Xiaobo. Hong Kong has nothing but a scumbag of pro-PRC politicians trying their best to protect their authority or privileges.

So I guess this movie is particularly meaningful to those people, me included, that cannot cast their vote to find their desired leader. Democracy may not solve all problems, but it gives hopes to humanity and the spirit of freedom.

God bless Aung San Suu Kyi. Democracy never comes easy.
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Mysterious but unspecified stakes
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU12 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film is a burning lamp post on the road to the future of the world, though it deals with the past life of a great figure in the world of today, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi who GOT the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

Myanmar is a mystery country in many ways and its dilemma and drama today is inherited directly from the colonization of it by the British. They were ruthless and they were condescending. They could not understand this Buddhist country, and their total lack of empathy created such a frustration that it was easy for the Maoist fraction to organize the full seizure of power after independence by assassinating the father of the independence of the country, the General Aung San, the father of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.

Then the rest is only circumstantial and anecdotic. The revolutionaries had to organize in 1962 a full military coup to keep the communist control over the country.

Unluckily it has stubbornly not changed i n spite of the enormous changes that occurred in the world, in China and in South East Asia. And that's dramatic though it could become tragic if the junta did not understand the necessity for change and did not keep the promises that are coming up now with the elections that are planned to take place soon, in spite of the fact that elections already took place in the past and their results were nullified.

The film is the story of this lady essentially from the moment she comes back to Myanmar to take care of her sick mother to the end of her first house arrest. This encompasses the death of her husband, an Oxford University Professor, and her decision to take the lead in the necessary evolution of Myanmar and the peaceful democratic change needed there.

We discover the fate of a poor country when it is literally abandoned on the roadside of history. It is condemned to become poorer and poorer, more and more desperate.

The film does not consider the last ten years and the way this country has become crucial to the Chinese as a direct exit to the Indian Ocean, which implies a deep change both politically and economically, hence socially. The film does not consider the fact that all South East Asian countries are concerned by the development of the Mekong River as an essential industrial and commercial asset that could become, will become an enormous electricity producer in an energy hungry area of the world. The Chinese have already done their share. The Laotians are in the last phase of doing theirs. Myanmar and then Thailand and Cambodia, not to mention Vietnam, have to follow suit.

That's what I regret about this film. First the little consideration of the Buddhist spirituality and action that are essential for the future, and second the economic stakes that are the real incentives to change. These are not explored in enough depth to really explain what is happening there.

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Western perspective
stensson9 April 2012
As long as there are people like this in the world, there's still hope. If we've followed the news during the last 20 years, we know much about this Burma lady, who has been in house arrest for most of that time and shown a courage which is incredible.

So why does this Luc Besson film turn into so much of a private drama? Why is it so much about The Lady's family life or lacking family life with husband and sons being forced to stay in England. Well, that could have passed if it wasn't narrated in such a predictable Western way.

Politics are here just a background to the private drama, which we know about from countless movies.
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Not bad at all, but still unconvincing...
guyincognito131 December 2011
While it is certainly true that Aung San Suu Kyi has been, and indeed remains a great figurehead for Burma and their struggle for democracy, one wonders quite how, after watching this film, Besson managed to make it quite so long. This, in fact, is my main criticism. 'The Lady' is simply far too long, and, in addition to this, is on a downhill slope after the initial stunning 10 minutes or so of cinematography. This opening was exciting, moving, and perfect in almost every way, but from that point on, the film just deteriorated.

The use of music was excessive, and I found it intensely irritating when practically every shot of the military junta was accompanied by 'evil' music. This simply trivialised a matter which is still relevant today, and patronised the audience. Furthermore, the dialogue between the junta leaders was a bit clumsy, a bit stereotypical, and a little bit soft.

However, this was a film that had bits of brilliance. David Thewlis was masterful, and every bit of his heart and soul went into his performance. Michelle Yeoh was radiant, although she looked a little bit out of her depth every once in a while, when she let her character slip. It only happened a couple of times, but that is enough. Typically for Luc Besson, the shots were beautifully executed, and I particularly liked the splicing of footage into re-constructed events. All these things, however, did not come together well enough.

Perhaps the reason why this film doesn't hold together very well is that she has not finished yet. Aung San Suu Kyi's story is not over, and she has not yet succeeded in her aims. The film itself just did not have enough substance to work with, and in that respect, it can be of some credit to the director that he made an unrealistic project into a passable film.
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