Friday, January 13, 2017

Movie Review: "Lion" (2016)

Director: Garth Davis
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes
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Five year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets separated from his older brother and eventually gets stuck on a train for two days, exiting in Calcutta, India. Lost and far away from home, he is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Now, twenty years later, Saroo (Dev Patel) looks to find the home and family he left behind. 

"Lion" is the first feature length narrative film directed by Garth Davis. Its screenplay is written by Luke Davies based on the true story "A Long Way Home," a book written by the actual Saroo Brierley. It stars Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel, who each play Saroo at a different point in his life, Pawar at age five and Patel later in life in his mid-to-late twenties. This film tells Saroo's incredible story once he is lost in India after he is separated from his brother and stuck on a train for a couple days. He wandered alone for months on the streets of Calcutta before being picked up by police and was eventually adopted by an Australian couple, John and Sue Brierley, played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman. Twenty years later while attending school for hotel management, Saroo meets Lucy, played by Rooney Mara, whom he opens up to about his past. Lucy is a partial catalyst for his quest to find his way home.

This is an inspiring and heartfelt true story that is absolutely moving and incredibly insane how it all unfolds. There are some really great performances in "Lion" from both of the people who play Saroo. Sunny Pawar is adorable and has a face that looks like he was designed by Disney animation studios. Wide-eyed and curious, Saroo wants to spend time with his older brother Guduu, played by Abhishek Bharate, who works late at night bailing hay to help make more money for his mother and his family. It is this want to travel with Guduu that separated Saroo from him in the first place. We could never imagine what it would be like to be a five year old child living on the streets of Calcutta, but "Lion" does a fantastic job showing the hardships and dangers of being a homeless child. We see many uncomfortable and disturbing situations that are tough to watch, but important to showcase in order for the audience to fully grasp the horrors of what some children there go through on a daily basis. Dev Patel, who burst onto the scene in the Oscar winning "Slumdog Millionaire," has proven time and time again that he is a real talent when it comes to acting. He proves it once again here by delivering a strong, emotional performance as a man torn between the life and family he now knows, loves, and is blessed to have, and the one he lost so many years ago on accident. Patel allows that inner turmoil to come out so well on screen with a powerhouse, poignant performance. Director Garth Davis also does a great job as well, striking an emotional chord with the audience that will certainly bring on the waterworks. Davis tells this unbelievable story in an honest fashion that never feels overly showy or enormous.

This is a film we have been wanting to see for a long time, ever since we missed it at the San Diego International Film Festival last October. Now that it has finally found its way into a theater in our area, we are glad we got to see "Lion" and really, really enjoyed it. It's a touching story that mixes both bittersweet and sorrowful human drama with moments filled with elation. It has great acting from Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, and Nicole Kidman, and the content of this insane true story makes it a drama not to miss this Oscar season.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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