She doth protest too much. In another time, real-life Burmese expat and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh) might have led a quiet life in suburban England with her two sons and adoring professor husband, Michael (David Thewlis). But ever since her father was assassinated, this charismatic dissident has had an impassioned need to do right by her homeland. After she returns to Burma in 1988, it becomes clear that the country requires her assistance, so a stay of weeks stretches into a number of tumultuous years.
You know what’s an even bigger stretch? That the best filmmaker to shepherd a film about Suu Kyi’s democracy-pursuing exploits is cinéma du look figurehead Luc Besson. His talents of late tend to be stronger with pen (as cowriter of schlock-par-excellence like Taken and Colombiana) than with camera, and The Lady suggests Besson should get back to his producer-screenwriter’s desk pronto. This is the kind of dull, dutiful slog that, with its golden-hued scenery and risibly black-and-white characterizations, beggars the backhanded compliment handsomely mounted. Yeoh is photographed throughout like a beatified saint, while her primary antagonist is clearly a bad guy because he orders his men to shoot at stray dogs. Not even the film’s most Bessonian touch—having Thewlis play his character’s own twin brother—makes much impact amid all the right-side-of-history conscientiousness. Who would have thought that the man behind such wackadoo fantasies as The Professional and The Fifth Element was capable of being so bloody boring?
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