Cast: Nicole Kidman / Dev Patel / Rooney Mara / Sunny Pawar
Director: Garth Davis.
Content Rating: PG 13 for thematic material and some sensuality.
A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.
I would never have picked this movie up if it hadn't been for its Oscar buzz and Patel's win. But I'm so glad I did see it, because Lion is one of those movies that has such incredible heart that it only takes a few minutes for the tears to come. (It took me seventeen. Then I was sobbing on and off for the rest of the film.)
The scenography was brilliant: the props and the incredibly well-proportioned scene sets were so completely on point, and each scene was thoughtful and elegant. The musical score and frequent lack of music was equally superb - adding great depth to each scene and setting the tone perfectly. It's intelligent, thoughtful, and beautiful.
The cinematography was excellent, and there were some truly breathtaking shots. Whether I was watching the heart aching scenes of poverty on India's streets or the stunning sweep of the surrounding landscape, it was immensely powerful. For example, I particularly loved the scene on the train where Saroo's alone and lost: not only was the scene intelligently and exquisitely presented in terms of design, but the cinematography showed this to its stunning, gut-wrenching potential.
The pacing was perfect. In addition, the flashbacks contributed effortlessly and profoundly to Sarro's present day situation and not for one minute were they boring. They were perfectly placed and also displayed some clever parallels to the current story, which allowed me to appreciate the current story even more.
My only criticism of the pacing is that the middle sagged a bit. It wavered, lacked focus, and needed a strong incentive to keep the story going. Thankfully however, the film did manage to pick itself up after the dip.
There was some solid character development, especially with Kidman's character. At first I was worried that they would leave her back story in the dark, but thankfully there was a powerful scene towards the end of the film that explained a great deal about her character's motivation and situation, and which allowed me to understand her better.
The acting's absolutely brilliant and so, so natural. Kidman was mind-blowing and Patel was powerful, and the supporting cast was strong. Rooney Mara was breathtaking whenever she was on screen, but that wasn't often. Unfortunately, her character also felt like "just a love interest" and didn't add much to the story.
But it was Sunny Pawar, as young Saroo, who stole the screen. Just......WOW. Most of the time I was sobbing simply because of the heartbreaking look on his adorable face. He was incredible, and apart from being an absolutely adorable, lovable, and gorgeous little boy, he was a superb child actor whose facial expressions were poignant and whose acting was natural and realistic.
Lion was a captivating, heartbreaking film infused with emotion and passion and swept along by its intelligent production and strong cast. It's a beautiful film, even if the emotion's in your face the whole time and the pacing suffers from Middle Movie Syndrome.
I highly recommend it. (But bring tissues).