The Lady comes up short

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 February, 2012, 12:00am

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French director Luc Besson's The Lady tells the story of Myanmar's iron-willed democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh), who lives in Britain with her husband and two sons, returns to Yangon (formerly Rangoon) to visit her ailing mother. She is the daughter of the country's iconic freedom fighter Aung San and so she poses a threat to the ruling junta.

During her stay, Suu Kyi sees her people cruelly oppressed and murdered by the army. Listening to the advice of a fortuneteller, Myanmar's leading general tries to get Suu Kyi to leave. She won't.

She decides to stay and begin her own campaign for upcoming elections. She is placed under house arrest - a move that sets her on a course to become a celebrated pro-democracy icon.

Yeoh is an elegant actress. In a movie full of slow-mo shots and melodramatic music, she has her tricks to captivate the audience, and aptly conveys Suu Kyi's pain.

Yeoh's performance aside, the movie is below average. Most of the crowd scenes are make-believe and amateurish.

David Thewlis, who plays Suu Kyi's English husband, overacts and over-emotes much of the time.

The movie also fails to find a focal point. It gives every bit of Suu Kyi's life equal weight. The clunky script struggles to zero in on the story's essence.

Yet because of its indomitable heroine's inspiring story, The Lady needs to be seen.