2017-01-20 07:49

What it's about:

Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train and is taken thousands of kilometres across India – away from home and family. He must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, until ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

What we thought:

From the minute this movie started I was immersed into a world so beautiful that it seemed as though it could not be real. But through the course of the movie the harsh reality of backbreaking poverty - brought to the screen so well - made the superficially beautiful world and its sad stories all too real.

Quite simply sometimes this movie broke my heart in the best ways.

That being said there is a difference between a movie that deals with important aspects of the human condition and is hard to watch and a movie that deals with important aspects of the human condition and is pleasure to watch. This film is definitely the latter. 

There were moments sitting in the cinema when I could not hold back the tears, and that is not a common experience for me. In those moments I realised that through the multifaceted storytelling and the brilliance of the lead actors - which I will get to later – I had become invested in the characters’ well-being and wanted everything to work out well for them even when it seemed impossible. Lion is more than a tearjerker. 

It was also the little things that made a big difference in the story like the sound editing, (especially in the scenes where Saroo gets lost) which were amazing in this respect. The cinematography, set design and true to life costumes also added to the magic of this film. Artist and designer Garth Davis’ (who directed the movie) created a piece of work that I think will last a lifetime for film goers of all ages because of these little things. 

The true heart of this film, away from all the technical aspects, is young actor, Sunny Pawar who plays the protagonist Saroo in his younger days. Aside from his adorable good looks, he embodied sadness and longing in a way that came across so well on screen that I felt connected to his character in every scene. When he was afraid, I was afraid and when he ran, I willed him to go faster.

Dev Patel – who plays older Saroo – brings a broodiness and slow burning frustration to the character who is having a hard time finding home after many, many years. Patel is brilliant at bringing Saroo’s many layers and contradictions to the screen without overacting. The English actor also makes the character very likeable, so that you end up wanting him to succeed as I mentioned earlier.  On that note, Nicole Kidman’s performance as Saroo’s adopted mom Sue Brierley is her best in years; so delicate and strong simultaneously. 

Rooney Mara plays Lucy, who is Saroo’s love interest in the film. I have to say that this character was my one sticking point in the film experience, she was not well rounded out and it felt as though she was just a prop for the protagonist. 

I think that if you enjoy movies that take you on a journey with lots of ups and downs like Carol, or movies that inspire through sadness like The Green Mile, then Lion might be for you. A tiny warning though, be prepared to shed a tear. 

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