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June 5, 2012 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Aung San Suu Kyi: Lady Of No Fear

Directed by Anne Gyrithe Bonne

Biographical documentaries can be exceedingly effective at peeling back the public persona of an important figure, to reveal the human- being that lies beneath. When this is applied to Burmese democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, the possibilities are intriguing. Unfortunately Lady of No Fear only offers a very superficial overview of Suu Kyi, and fails to provide us with any perceptive insights into her character or actions.

The film itself is poorly constructed. Boone’s obsession with clichéd documentary techniques such as overuse of extreme close ups makes it feel like an exceedingly amateur piece of filmmaking. Furthermore its pacing is jarring, at sometimes examining events in meticulous detail, and at others gallivanting through some critical chapters of her life with a mere few sentences of narration.

The single-minded focus on Suu Kyi’s relationship with her husband is both the film’s greatest asset and its major hindrance. Many of us only see Suu Kyi as the determined campaigner tirelessly fighting for democracy, so some of the details that Boone unearths regarding Suu Kyi’s marriage to Michael Aris are genuinely interesting. However, Boone becomes fixated on this connection, relegating all other relations and influences to the background.

Worse still it fails to draw any convincing connections between these personal entanglements and her political career, largely because the film ignores the context in which Suu Kyi’s actions took place. We never get a sense of her transformation into a pro-democracy leader, or of the changing political situation in Burma, as Boone glosses over that material.

In the end Lady of No Fear comes off as an incomplete picture, which fails to properly delve into the motivations and nature of its subject. Boone takes Suu Kyi in isolation, divorcing her from the struggles and situations that have defined and shaped her. Such an influential woman deserves a far more engaging portrait than what Lady of No Fear offers us.

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