Read the review after the jump.
LIONReview by Popa Razvan
Based on a true story and the memoir "A Long Way Home" written by Saroo Brierley, the 2016 film "Lion" directed by Garth Davis is a riveting drama about self-discovery that has been nominated for six Oscar awards, including Best Picture.
The flm tells the story of Saroo, who at the age of five (Sunny Pawar) got separated from his family. In 1986, Saroo followed his brother to work. It was night, and he was too tired to keep going, so his brother let him take a nap on a bench in the train station and told him to wait for him there. Saroo woke up, saw a train waiting on the platform, looked for his brother then fell asleep inside the train. When he woke up again, the train was moving and kept going for two straight days without stopping. When the ride finally ended, Saroo found himself in Calcutta, 1500 miles from his home town. He eventually ended up in an orphanage and from there he was adopted by an Australian couple, Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John Brierley (David Wenham), who become his new loving parents and give him a chance to a new life.
Twenty years later, Saroo (Dev Patel) has grown up with all the privileges of civilized life. He has a girlfriend (Rooney Mara) he loves very much, and wants to study hotel management. But, something inside him aches. He's haunted by images from his childhood and the thought of his mother and brother desperately looking for him. When he learns about Google Earth from his friends, he begins to investigate and retrace his long journey using the Internet, hoping to find his lost family.
Dev Patel has a lot of room to stretch his dramatic muscles in this role, and captures Saroo's angst and identity crisis perfectly as he must somehow come to terms with both worlds, the one he was born into, and the one he was adopted into. Kidman also brings a lot more complexity to her character than I expected, as Sue turns out to be pretty complicated herself. The only one who isn't given much to do is Mara. Her relationship with Saroo isn't sufficiently fleshed out, there is not enough chemistry between them, and her character quickly becomes irrelevant. It turns out to be a bigger problem than it should have been since they spend quite a lot of time together that ultimately becomes unnecessary for the narrative.
Some might say that the film is a shamelessly manipulative tearjerker and its only purpose is to tug at our the heartstrings. That is true to a certain extent. Some scenes in the film would certainly fit the bill. But I would simply say that it's just damn good filmmaking. For example, the first half of the film that portrays Saroo's heartbreaking journey across India and his stay at the orphanage are excellent in terms of simply telling a powerful story. Davis proves he has enough craft and passion to overcome even the most cynical moviegoers amongst us. And that's no small feat.
- Emotionally stirring true story
- Excellent performances from Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman
- Precise and efficient filmmaking that serves the story well
- Rooney Mara's girlfriend character is redundant
- Some blatant tearjerker moments
ENTERTAINMENT FACTOR SCORE: 80%
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