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Originally published Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 3:03 PM

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Movie review

'The Lady': Michelle Yeoh is perfectly cast as Myanmar's Suu Kyi

A three-star review of "The Lady," a family story, as rendered by director Luc Besson, about the life of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leading figure in Myanmar's pro-democracy struggle. A perfectly cast Michelle Yeoh stars.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

'The Lady,' with Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis. Directed by Luc Besson, from a screenplay by Rebecca Frayn. 127 minutes. Rated R for violence including some bloody images. In English and Burmese, with English subtitles. Harvard Exit.

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The life of Suu Kyi is one of the most, perhaps the most, compelling story of courage... MORE


"The Lady" is a family story. As rendered by director Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element") and screenwriter Rebecca Frayn, the life of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leading figure in Burma's pro-democracy struggle, is defined by the familial ties that bind her, inspire her, test her and ennoble her.

The daughter of Gen. Aung San, who led the fight for Burma's independence from Britain until his assassination in 1947, Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh) follows in her father's footsteps as she leads a peaceful campaign to free her country from the repressive rule of the military junta that has controlled Burma (now Myanmar) for decades.

In the course of that fight, she is forced to sacrifice her family life, as the ruling generals confine her to house arrest for close to 15 years (released in 2010, she recently was elected to a seat in Burma's parliament). Thus is she kept apart from her loving, supportive British professor husband, Michael Aris (David Thewlis), and the couple's two sons, which causes her immense emotional anguish.

This focus on family drastically simplifies the realities of Suu Kyi's life. For instance, "The Lady" offers only the most superficial look into her work with other members of the freedom movement. Instead, the movie bounces between Burma and Britain, where Aris is shown being a househusband raising their kids and mounting the campaign that wins her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

Yeoh is perfectly cast. Slender and graceful, her physical resemblance to Suu Kyi is remarkable. Even more impressive is the way she projects steely inner strength and tremendous composure. When she walks steadily and seemingly fearlessly into a wall of rifles aimed at her by opposition soldiers, the look of serene determination on her face becomes "The Lady's" signature image.

Soren Andersen:

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