One afternoon, a group of badly wounded students flood in the hospital and spotting a student with a bleeding arm, you rush to give him emergency aid. A man in uniform grabs you from behind and tries to drag him out.
This is what happened in the opening scene of The Lady where in Burma, soldier with red scarf can have the right to shoot anyone on the street.
Witnessing this comes the moment for Aung San Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh) to decide in continuing her father’s legacy to fight for democracy or to continue living as a peaceful, somewhat unenlightened, housewife life.
Michelle Yeoh in this movie has truly transformed herself from a more or less stereotypical Chinese kungfu star in Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon to the softly – spoken yet with intense inner strength ‘Steel Orchid’ – Aung San Suu Kyi.
Undaunted by soldiers’ gun pointing, she passed through them without even lifting a look – that shows not the slightest hint of arrogance but a simple civil disobedience that reminds me of Gandhi (whose biography was widely read in the movie by Suu Kyi and other students).
It was a pity for this great cast to have fallen into the hand of Luc Besson. Besson seems to be more apt to direct film like the action – bursting Fifth Element but definitely not for this slow sentimental drama.
The static house arrest and the dry bureaucratic exchange, along with the constant frustration of getting connected in either telephone line or radio, can hardly sustain the momentum of the movie, saved by occasional intensely sentimental exchanges between Suu Kyi and her husband, Michael.
In any case, the causes, namely democracy and rule of law, that Aung San Suu Kyi fought for and has paid a dear price for doing so (years of solitude in house arrest and the pain of separation with Michael who can’t even see her in his dying bed) are what you and me are enjoying now; that’s we won’t get punched or shot on the street by someone who wears red scarf.