Review: Lion

After coming home from vacation, I managed to make it to a screening of the very much-talked about indie picture Lion, starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, newcomer Sunny Pawar, Priyanka Bose, Abhishek Bharate and Divian Ladwa.

Lion is based off the autobiography by Saroo Brierley, recounting the events of his life from the time he was 5 years old, when he was accidently whisked away from his home in Khandwa, to Calcutta and adopted by the Brierley family. Nearly two decades later, he recalls his brief life with his mother and his older brother Guddhu and armed with the useful features of Google Earth, he tries to retrace his steps and do what no one else couldn’t: find his real home and his real family.

Director Garth Davis and screenwriter Luke Davies should feel very proud for what they’ve accomplished for Lion is a very moving and profound story about an underdog who only wants to go back home and reclaim something that was lost. I believe Lion is a well-assembled motion picture with all of the hallmarks you could ask for in a can’t miss movie: a compelling story, great acting, solid execution, astute technicality; I truly enjoyed watching Lion because I felt that is was the sum of all of its parts with a very satisfying finish.

Luke Davies and Garth Davis took Saroo Brierley’s story and vividly brought it to life before the eyes of audiences by allowing viewers to go down this heart-wrenching and powerful journey with Saroo from “Ganestaly” to Calcutta to Tasmania and to Ganesh Talai. I believe it captured the essence of what Saroo saw and felt and I couldn’t look away for an instant.

Lion must have one of the best acting ensembles of the year! Newcomer Sunny Pawar is terrific, Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman are exceptional, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Divian Ladwa are very good; the acting in this movie is truly on point and it doesn’t get more evident than the scene between Patel and Kidman where Kidman’s character explains why she adopted Saroo and Mantosh rather than have kids of her own, that was a beautiful moment between those two.

Greig Fraser beautifully caught this movie on camera and Alexandre de Francesci’s editing was crisp and seamless. When Saroo woke up on the train, the use of jump cuts was smart in that sequence where Saroo was surprised, afraid and trapped and looking for a way out; I felt trapped as well as sympathetic.

Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka’s score was one of the best of 2016, I really liked Chris Kennedy’s production design but I can’t say much about Cappi Ireland’s costumes.

Naturally, people may compare this film to Slumdog Millionaire because of its setting and the actor the films have in common but I prefer to believe that Lion is worthy enough to stand on its own, apart from Slumdog Millionaire and I think that the latter is in a better class of film than Lion. Nevertheless, I walked away from Lion very pleased because it’s story that you have to witness to believe.

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