Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is as close to a modern day version of Martin Luther King or Gandhi that you are likely to find anywhere. The fact that she is still alive, and actively fighting for democracy in her home country of Burma is also nothing short of amazing.
Well, that’s the impression you get from The Lady, Luc Besson’s biopic of the woman they call the Steel Orchid. It is thanks to the wonderful and rounded performance of Michelle Yeoh, and the support from David Thewlis, that The Lady overcomes its obstacles, namely its pace. The result is a moving portrait of a woman with courage, conviction and resilience.
Suu Kyi is the daughter of the former leader of Burma Aung San, who was assassinated back in 1947. She is first shown as a scholar and housewife living in London, the wife of the academic Michael Aris (Thewlis), who specialises in Tibetan culture. Her country is being run by a military junta, portrayed as madmen who live by fortune tellers and superstitions.
Once she gets the call in 1988 to tell her that her mother is dying, Suu Kyi goes back to Rangoon to care for her, and in doing so catches the attention of the leaders. As they are both fearful and suspicious of her motives, being the daughter of her martyr, they begin to follow her every movement. She is shocked when the army respond so violently to the student protests, shooting point blank into the unarmed crowds.
Following this, Suu Kyi is quickly drafted into the nascent democracy movement, and becomes the focal point when general seemingly give into the peoples demands and announce an open election. This triggers more than 2 decades of struggles, during which the harsh regime cracks down hard, not only on the whole democracy movement, but also on Suu Kyi herself.