The Lady Review

Image for The Lady

Rangoon, 1990. Burmese democrat Aung San Suu Kyi (Yeoh) is encouraged to stand in the country's free elections. Despite winning a popular mandate she's place under indefinite house arrest by the repressive regime. Meanwhile, in Oxford, her supportive husband (Thewlis) and two sons wait for word of when they might see her again...


The latest of Luc Besson’s teak-tough leading ladies, Michelle Yeoh plays Burmese democrat and dissident Aung San Suu Kyi with the grit of Nikita and the stoicism of Joan Of Arc. Suu Kyi’s struggles to bring democracy to her homeland, framed in flashback through the eyes of ailing husband (David Thewlis), span 15 years of intimidation, house arrest and a separation from her family that’s freighted with yearning and hardship. An unusually restrained Besson bubble-wraps this country-or-family quandary in sincerity, but you can’t escape the feeling that it’s not restraint we turn to Besson for — it’s spectacle. Here his understandable urge to treat this saintly figure with reverence somehow drains the film of spark, although Yeoh’s performance does provide wattage of its own. The result is that all-too-familiar phenomenon: a biopic that’s rarely as inspiring as its subject.

Luc Besson makes the mistake of showing too much respect to his subject, removing the grey areas that make for intriguing biopics. The central performances of Thewlis and Yeoh are the high points in an earnest two-and-a-bit hours.