Paolo here. Day 6 of TIFF brings movies about love and passion crossing borders and oceans or trying to, despite the difficulties. Ladies and gentlemen, bring your handkerchiefs or roll your cynical eyes.
THE LADY (Luc Besson)
Most of you must already know about detained Burmese President-elect Aung San Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh), but her unlikely entry into political life happened so long ago that we, especially the younger generations, forget a few facts. First, that she lived in Oxford and bore two boys for her husband Michael Aris (David Thewlis), a professor of Southeast Asian studies and that the reason for her untouchable status in a military dictatorship is her ties to England. Second, that the reason the university intellectuals have chosen her as the figurehead of the Burmese democracy movement is because her father, a general, fought for the same goals after World War II.
The story of her adult life is now adapted to the screen as The Lady directed by Luc Besson. This movie allows Besson to diversify his CV but I personally couldn't avoid looking for his trademarks. Suu is Besson's female heroine, Michael his the Tati-esque old man, and a superstitious general is the campy, quirky villain. Besson keeps the violence to a reverent level this time, even if Suu's father becomes a martyr in the film's first scene. The Lady also has a few montages which chronicle the news of Suu's planned rallies spreading throughout the streets of Rangoon. They went on a bit longer than necessary.
As biopics go, The Lady has a surprsing lack of naturalism. Take this paraphrasal of one of Suu and David's conversations:
'The world reveres you as someone with no negative qualities.'
'I will list my negative qualities right now.'
'Your negative qualities made me fall in love with you.'
But because I like this, I'll call it 'classic English dialogue', pulled off well by Thewliss and especially Yeoh who has perfected a politician-style elegance; in a festival full of misanthropy, characters who are 'too nice' are a welcome change.
The title of Madonna's much-discussed new film, is an acronym for the most gossiped marriage in the past century between Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) and King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy). The couple belong to a story within the story, which is an obsession for fairytale-stricken Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish), who comes close to the couple's property six decades after their exile. Wally is bored of her neglectful husband while befriending a foreign Sotheby's security guard (Oscar Isaac). I'll assume that Madonna took on this story in engender her own so-called feminist perspective, and she brings a sympathetic and sometimes humorous light to the maligned woman. I would have preferred to see a movie based on "Famous Last Words," Timothy Findley's novel about Wallis.