Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Lady

Last night I saw The Lady, starring Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis.

The film tells the true story of the life of Aung San Suu Kyi (Yeoh), the Nobel Laureate imprisoned in Burma for her efforts to bring democracy to the country. Her father, Aung San, founded the Burmese Army in 1947, earning the country independence from the British Empire. He was killed that same year by opposition forces, and this is where the film begins.

The story is paced quickly, advancing us to 1988 when Suu returned to Burma from her home in England where she lived a happy life with British husband Michael Aris and their two sons. She went home to care for her ailing mother and ended up leading the pro-democracy movement. One phrase repeatedly comes to mind when reflecting on Suu's life: truth is stranger than fiction.

The series of events that occurred once she declared her political intentions would leave her under house arrest for over two decades (with brief periods of "freedom" to move about within the country), separate her from her family and force her to miss saying goodbye to her beloved husband before he passed away from cancer. Watching this unfold is both heart-wrenching and inspiring; the amazing love and loyalty she and her husband felt for one another, despite being separated for many years is to be admired.

Their story is emphasized and told beautifully here--the two leads communicating with facial expressions how painful true love can be. The striking resemblance between Yeoh and the real Suu also help build authenticity in this elegant, organic looks at of one of the most important historical figures of our time.

As a U2 fan who first learned of Suu Kyi via U2's song "Walk On", which was written about her, I was also delighted to hear some of the band's music in the film, and one of their T-shirts appearing on Suu's young son.

I can't think how the film could have been better--it's riveting from start to finish.

I only hope there will be a sequel showing that her courage and peaceful resolve changed the way people are treated in Burma and around the world.


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