Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Film Review: "The Lady" (2011).




The film's tagline reads: "Wife. Mother. Prisoner. Hero." This is the story of The Lady. This French-British biographical film directed by Luc Besson and written by Rebecca Frayn. The film tells the story of Aung San Suu Kyi and her late husband, Michael Aris' devotion and love, and how it endured amongst the distance, long separations, a dangerously hostile regime and political turmoil, which continues today. It is also the story of the Aung San Suu Kyi's quest for democracy in Burma, who is at the core of Burma's democracy movement.

Writer Rebecca Frayn and her husband, producer Andy Harries had visited Burma in the early 1990s, and afterwards began working on the project. Harries' production company Left Bank Pictures began development of the script in 2008. During the period of three years, Frayn was able to assemble interviews with key figures in Aung San Suu Kyi's entourage enabled her to reconstruct for the first time the true story of Burma's national heroine. Director Giuseppe Tornatore, at one point, was considered to direct the movie. Harries wanted Michelle Yeoh as the lead and had the script sent to her. The actress was thrilled because she had always wanted to play Suu Kyi. She visited London to meet the couple. The script was as British as its origin, telling the story solely from Michael Aris' perspective but Michelle Yeoh claimed she brought an Asian insight to it. Her husband Jean Todt (who later on also accompanied the project as accredited producer) encouraged her to contact his country fellowman and friend Luc Besson. Besson accepted the script immediately as an opportunity for him to finally present a real life heroine, a female fighter who wields no other weapons than her human virtues. Filming took place in Bangkok under the working title Dans la Lumiere (Into the Light). It was during filming that news broke that Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest had been lifted. Besson hesitated to believe what he saw on TV because it looked so much like his recent footage. Yeoh visited Suu Kyi soon afterwards. She would say later it had been like visiting a dear family member. On 22 June 2011 Yeoh wanted to visit Suu Kyi a second time but was deported from Burma, reportedly over her portrayal of Aung San Suu Kyi. This time Besson was allowed to meet Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi said she would hesitate to watch the film because she wasn't too sure to be up to it already, although she asked for a copy.

The film stars Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis, Jonathan Raggett and Jonathan Woodhouse. The cast gave strong performances, especially Yeoh gave the strongest, not only with her physical presence but also with her sheer humanity.

It might be questionable to truly soar, but there's no denying Michelle Yeoh's impressive work in The Lady, or the inspirational power of the life it depicts. The film never opts for a light touch when a sledgehammer will do.

Simon says The Lady receives:


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