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Film review: THE LADY from Built For Speed

The Lady is the non-descript title for the biopic of Burmese political leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Apart from a prologue set in 1962 when her Father, Burmese President Aung San, was killed in a military coup, the film focuses on the period from 1988-1999 during which she made the unusual transition from British housewife to Ghandi-like peace activist in Burma.

Having returned to Burma to visit her ailing Mother in 1988 she was soon drawn into the fight for democracy and became the leader of student and academic opposition to the ruling military Junta. This earned her two decades of house arrest.

The film is as much about her relationship with husband Oxford Professor Michael Aris (David Thewlis) as her quest for democracy in Burma. Much of the film focuses on the stress caused by their constant separation.

There’s something a bit vanilla about this film, it just doesn’t capture the volatility of a nation in turmoil or what must be the powerful personalities of those involved.

As Suu Kyi, Michelle Yeoh is stoic and saintly but not a particularly compelling figure.  Thewlis is a bit hammy as the quirky old professor (and his twin brother) and seems more like he’s still channelling a school master from Hogwarts.  Also, her children seem oddly calm about the fact that their mother is being held prisoner by a brutal military regime.  The Burmese generals are depicted as such evil, leering, sweating creeps that their almost comical.  One military flunky has such affected mannerisms he reminded me of Benny Hill’s Fred Scuttle.

The Burmese people’s quest for democracy is a powerful subject and the story of the person who overcame phenomenal adversity to lead that movement will always be an extremely important one but this is an underwhelming biopic.

Director: Luc Besson

Release date: 19th April 2012

Running time: 132 mins

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