The Lady Blu-ray Review
The Lady comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a sumptuous 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, from the close-ups to the longer shots. With the opening prologue you would be forgiven for assuming that this was just another recent Besson production, complete with heavily oversaturated stylisation in-line with the likes of Colombiana, but the style soon shifts, changing to embrace the varying locales and temperaments: from the greys and browns of Oxford, draped in moody British weather, to the rich and sun-blessed Burma, with vibrant oranges, yellows and vivid greens. There’s still a fair amount of saturation, and the film certainly has a keenly cinematic edge, with solid, deep black levels at the end of the spectrum. With no noticeable digital defects, edge enhancement or unruly DNR, this is an impressive, polished-looking presentation that more than does justice for the film.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track certainly does more than you would expect with this kind of material, no doubt thanks to the occasionally aggressive, oftentimes percussive score from Eric Serra, whose tones here could be compared to anything from Nikita to Leon to Goldeneye. Indeed it’s the score that offers up the most bass, driving the LFE to more than keep up with the rest of the proceedings – and sometimes to engulf them. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, whether it be in English, or in Burmese, with forced English subtitles that occasionally feel poorly-placed in the frame. Effects range from the opening gunshots through to the surging crowds that sweep you up during the protests, with keen observation of the smaller touches that comprise the quieter moments. It’s a warm, welcome aural accompaniment that does not quite resound as demo quality but certainly gives the audio a fitting presentation.
A disappointingly limited set of extras includes just two Featurettes, both of which have sparks of interest but fail to fully cater to those looking for a more in-depth look at both the situation in Burma and the real Suu Kyi.
Making The Lady runs at nearly half-and-hour in length and offers up your standard Behind the Scenes footage complete with interspliced interview snippets with the main cast and crew – including Besson, Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis. It’s certainly nice to get a few hints at what they went through to get this picture made and, although it doesn’t make up for the lack of Commentary/Documentary etc. there is some nice footage here, including shots taken whilst Luc Besson – in disguise – scouted locations in Burma.
Happy World: Burma, The Dictatorship of the Absurd is a strange little 20-minute political expose, which has all the trapping of a documentary but all the style of an MTV piece. Shot by a couple of French filmmakers who wanted to highlight the issues in Burma, there are some interesting – and, indeed, absurd – facts which are revealed about the nation, although the flashy, gimmicky format threatens to undermine the import of the information.
Fatefully released in time to coincide with her long-awaited rise to office, The Lady explores the life of political prisoner and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during the half-Century-long oppression of Burma. Driven by actress Michelle Yeoh’s commitment to the project, and by director Luc Besson’s production clout and ever-evident style, you shouldn’t be put off by the presence of these two familiar action-hands – they have crafted a dignified, worthy look at Suu Kyi, her marriage and the sacrifices that she made for her country and her people. Whatever deficiencies the film has are more than made up for by it being a very well-timed and eminently well-meaning look at the plight of one of the last bastions of tyranny.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get impressive video and audio and a couple of nice but not wholly satisfying extras. Fans of the film shouldn’t hesitate in picking up this release; those interested in biopics – in particular those of political prisoners – should do the same; whilst newcomers who are drawn in by political studies like this will too likely find this a worthy watch. It’s far from a perfect film, but it is an undeniably admirable effort.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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