28 June 2013 | Leofwine_draca
Poignant, slow-burning human drama
Luc Besson takes a change of pace for this slow-moving biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's most famous daughter and a woman whose life became symbolic of that country's struggle against a repressive military junta. For those who know nothing about Suu Kyi, the most significant part of her story involves her being placed under house arrest for many years, so adrenaline junkies should look elsewhere.
This story is mannered, simple and rich in atmosphere. It's not a political thriller with super-fast cutting and editing between characters; instead, it's an often poignant exploration of courage and decency in the face of oppression. There's a kind of slow-burning intensity beneath the surface nonetheless, something that keeps you watching and which makes for a compelling journey despite the lack of incident.
Michelle Yeoh was born to play the part of Suu Kyi, and she performs admirably in the role, capturing the woman's indomitable spirit through subtlety and carefully-crafted mannerisms. David Thewlis, as her long-suffering husband, is the human heart of the story and his tragic tale is full of emotion.
Although the violent acts of the Burmese soldiers form the backdrop of the tale, this is a film about people, about character and the choices we make in our lives. I particularly liked the way that the film refuses to preach or eulogise about Suu Kyi's character; she's certainly no saint, and watching her choose her country over her family is quietly devastating in its own way.