Michelle Yeoh first came to my attention as the kick-ass Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies, and ever since I have followed her amazing career in both Asian and Hollywood movies. Luc Besson achieved huge success with his kick-ass movies such as Leon and The Fifth Element, as well as producing The Transporter franchise. So these two have joined forces to bring us… a biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Gandhi. And I, for one, am so pleased they did. Somehow, her amazing story has passed me by, but it is as inspirational as it is tragic.
Besson must be given credit for allowing the story to unfold in a way that genuinely creates tension, and doesn’t take anything for granted. Should you know Suu’s story, it must be remarkable to see how the situation occurred. However, if, like me, you had never heard of her, you’re in for a real education and a devastating emotional journey.
Michelle Yeoh has never been better, imbuing Suu with a sincerity and grace, her performance having a subtlety that tears at your heart. You never question a single moment, look, gesture, comment, and don’t ever feel like you’re watching somebody Acting, with a capital A.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rest of the cast. David Thewlis is limp and insipid as her British husband, never truly demonstrating any form of sincerity in his affection for his wife. The vast supporting cast are even worse, clearly comprised of relative newcomers and/or amateurs- that’s certainly how they come across, anyway.
Much like The Iron Lady, the focus of this film’s attention is on the lead female performance, and I honestly couldn’t say who did the better job. However, THIS, Phyllida Lloyd, is how you tell the story of a powerful female political figure.