A story about Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace prize, a woman that has been a prisoner in her own house for nearly two decades seems to be an odd film for Luc Besson to make. Luc Besson, best known for cinema releases such as Transporter and La Femme Nikita, wouldn’t appear on many people’s lists as the first choice for a film such as this.
There are clearly times where you can see that Besson is outside of his comfort zone during this film about the pro-democracy Burmese leader, played by Michelle Yeoh. Suu Kyi is a woman with plenty of pacifist credentials, as shown by the scene where she’s reading a book about Ghandi. Besson is on familiar territory in the opening sequence, where the tale of Suu Kyi’s father’s assassination is told swiftly and brutally.
Flashing forward 25 years and seeing Suu Kyi in Oxford, living in harmony with her husband and two sons, leaves the audience a little disorientated by the sudden cultural shift. At the core, this film is simply an old-fashioned romance spanning two continents.
Travelling back to her home country to visit her ill mother sees her becoming inextricably linked to the democracy movement and being placed under arrest. The gravitas and poise brought to the role by Michelle Yeoh does justice to the woman that is often referred to as a living saint. Thewliss, too, is brilliant as the mild-mannered husband from Oxford, who stands by Suu Kyi throughout the injustice.
However, less than twelve months after she was released from being under house arrest and just a few weeks after she became a member of the Burmese parliament, it is perhaps a little too soon for her full story to be exposed. Although, the biopic could have done with a little more exploration of the emotional struggle that Suu Kyi must have endured during isolation.