Movie Review: THE LADY
‘The Lady’ – the love story of Aung Sang Suu Kyi, directed by Luc Besson is set in political turmoil of Burma (Myanmar). Michelle Yeoh gives a brilliant and elegant performance as Aung Sang Suu Kyi, and David Thewlis as her noble husband.
A touching movie of love and sacrifice and choices made. Aung Sang Suu Kyi has to choose between her loving family – husband and sons in England, and her love for her people in Burma. Two loves, two countries.
Without doubt this is one of the most realistic portrayal of a living heroine by an actor. Michelle Yeoh, has an uncanny resemblance to Aung Sang Suu Kyi. Her acting – her body language,and intense facial expressions bring out compassion and strength, confusion and determination, and longing, timidity and boldness. She is all of these.
Being a linguist Michelle learned the language. Her speeches are beautiful. It was during my visit to Burma many years ago that I had heard Burmese spoken and had forgotten how rounded and soothing the language is. Michelle’s sylph like figure in Burmese attire and flowers in her hair make her a gracious lady. The old home by the lake that we have seen so many times in news reels, the home where Aung Sang Suu Kyi spent her time under house arrest, is perfectly re-created that it is difficult not believe it is the same one. The Burma scenes were shot in Thailand. The portrayal is realistic. During filming some of the Burmese actors were so overcome by emotion, the story and the plight of the Burmese people, that filming had to be suspended for a short time.
The story moves from England to Burma seamlessly. There is no confusion with the shifting back and forth from cold England to humid hot Burma, from mist and snow of Oxford to the monsoon deluges of Rangoon, from contentment and joy of a happy family to devastating sadness of oppression and student uprising.
Luc Besson likes making films of strong women and in ‘The Lady’ he has excelled himself. It was during the filming of the movie that news of the lady’s release from house arrest was announced. The director and crew found it difficult to believe that it had happened at last.
The film script is beautifully written by Rebecca Fran. She and Andy Harris spent time in Burma. They never met the ‘Lady’ but interviewed many who knew her. Andy Harris researched the happy times of Sui Kyi’s life in England with her husband. Much of the English outdoor scenes were shot in front of the house they had lived in.
This is truly an inspiring film. Through her sacrifices, faith in her people and her steadfastness in her beliefs Aung Sang Suu Kyi is on her way to achieving the vision her father had for Burma: Democracy.
All who do not cry in cinemas please take your fathers’ large handkerchiefs.
PS: ‘Wild Orchids’ in Bathing Elephants, my second short story collection, is set in Burma and lightly touches on Myanmar politics, the student uprising and on Aung Sang Suu Kyi. It is a fictional story of two simple young people who fall in love and marry but due to the political situation are separated.
‘Minh Thida slid away silent as a shadow. Fireflies floated in the dark space between the trees through which he disappeared. Bats swept the air. All fell silent. Thura Khin heard no noises, no birds, no small animals rustling in the bushes. She remained still for a long time, uncertain. Had he been there in person or had she hallucinated? As she turned back to go into the hut she felt something drop to the ground, by her feet. She picked up the bunch of wild orchids he’d placed in her hair. She did not go back into the hut but sat on the log by the fire holding a spray of wilting wild orchid. Dreams of a dead man not dead.’