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Sunday, January 15, 2012

THE LADY

By D.E.Levine

This is a beautifully shot film directed by Luc Besson, chronicling the life of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize winning Burmese activist who for years has challenged the military regime that holds Burma in a dictatorship.

Having been to Burma, now known as Myramar, and found that people would not openly discuss Suu Kyi, I found the film fascinating in describing her childhood, family heritage of public and military service, and the many hardships and sacrifices she and her family made in publicly standing against the military dictatorship that now rules the country.

As interesting as it is, at 2 1/2 hours the film is too long. The prologue is interesting, explaining how Suu Kyi's father, General Aung San was instrumental in liberating Burma from British rule and became a hero to the Burmese people.

When he was assassinated in 1947, along with the rest of the government, the country was taken over by a military junta.

The film leaps to 1968 where Suu Kyi is living in the United Kingdom with her husband Michael Aris (David Thewles) and their two sons Kim (Jonathan Raggett) and Alex (Jonathan Woodhouse).

Called home to care for her mother who becomes ill, Suu Kyi is shocked at the violence and civil unrest she finds in Rangoon.

When asked to remain in Burma and head the National League for Democracy, because her friends and associates realize what a powerful presence the daughter of General Suu Kyi will make, she decides to remain.

However, to keep her from assuming her role the military government places Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years, with no access to newspapers, telephones, television and very infrequent approved visits from family members.

Unfortunately, as fascinating as the film is the characters are never fully developed and the intensity of the political upheaval never comes across.

Yeoh looks beautiful, but her role is placid and full of platitudes. Thewlis, Raggett and Woodhouse shine in their roles but because Suu Kyi and her family were basically separated for 10 years, their roles are small, although the loss, in real life, is great.

Filmed primarily in Thailand, the scenery is beautiful but most scenes center either around the supposed Aung San estate in Burma or the Aris residence in Oxford, England.

The reality is that although long, the film barely skims the surface of the ordeal, suffering and sacrifices that Aung San and her family made and are still making.