Lion is the directorial debut for Garth Davis in the feature film realm, and is based on the true story of a boy named Saroo who gets lost on the streets of India and through various ordeals ends up being adopted and raised by an Australian couple. Years later he decides he wants to find his lost family and Lion follows the story of both the boy getting lost and the man finding his lost home. If i wasn’t so heartless, it’d be really emotional stuff.
With a string of award nominations i was looking forward to seeing this film but i have to admit i was curious as to how this seemingly basic story would be told. The film is split pretty evenly between the young Saroo (played by one of the best child actors I’ve seen, Sonny Pawar) and the older Saroo (played by Dev Patel, from Slumdog Millionaire). This even split really does help invest you in the journey this character goes on in his life.
Normally a film like this would have maybe 10 or 15 minutes dedicated to the young boys story, especially in a situation where English is barely spoken and the dialogue is all subtitled. However the entire first part of the film is dedicated to the young boys travel and the direction of both the camera and the young actor here is magnificent. You really do feel for him with each new trial and tribulation he has to endure just to survive in the harsh world he is surrounded by. You’re given time with the character now, at this young stage in his life, so that later on in the film you understand the origin of the strong motivations that adult Saroo has to find his way back to his lost home.
Dev Patel takes over as the Adult Saroo for the rest of the movie and he is exceptional in this film. My most recent memory of him is in the god awful disgrace of a film “The Last Airbender” so its great to see the talent he showed earlier in his career coming to the fore here. He’s supported by a very good Nicole Kidman, who has a few great scenes to showcase what she does best. The entire cast is solid and after the 3 previously mentioned, Rooney Mara and David Wenham stand out as really solid performance’s (Wenham played Faramir in Lord of the Rings, I always liked Faramir more than most, wish he had more to do in the films. This is irrelevant and i shouldn’t leave these kind of random notes in the blog but i am going to, and there is diddly squat you can do about it).
With a story that’s so heavy with story and emotion a film could easily start to drag and feel a bit slow but, for me at least, Lion manages to keep things ticking along at a steady pace and kept me interested throughout the film. There is occasions when a scene here or there could’ve been cut to make the overall run time a little shorter, and the score lacked a little punch for me, but i am really scraping the barrel here for things i can criticise.
Whilst my favourite films are normally more action packed and excitement overloads, Lion was one of the few films in recent times to hit me on a more sentimental level than i expected. Lion is a thoroughly enjoyable film, with an uplifting and captivating story that will probably hit the sensitive viewers out there right in the feels. Apologies in advance for the terrible pun after the score here.
9.5/10 – I’d be Lion if i said it wasn’t great.