Title – Lion (2016)
Director – Garth Davis (feature debut)
Cast – Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, David Wenham
Plot – Young Indian boy Saroo (Pawar) is separated from his loving family and lost on the harsh and unforgiving Indian streets. After surviving his traumatic ordeal, Saroo is adopted by caring Australian couple John (Wenham) and Sue Brierley (Kidman). Living a good life, an older Saroo (now Patel) is still haunted by his past and sets out to find his blood family.
“Every night I imagine that I’m walking those streets home and I know every single step of the way”
Review by Eddie on 20/01/2017
On the back of the Australian-led Hacksaw Ridge, locally tinged Lion represents another fine feature film of equal emotional resonance to Mel Gibson’s standout World War 2 film, which will likely see the two products competing alongside each other at next month’s Academy Awards ceremony.
Lion, which see’s first time feature director Garth Davis (a wise choice after his work on many of the episodes of the fantastic TV series Top of the Lake) tackle the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian man that was adopted at a young age by a loving Australian family after being tragically separated by his family back home, is a film that feels ripe to be a cliché ridden, by-the-numbers, “finding my family” bio that is instead a heart-warming tale filmed with a stunning visual palette and grace and filled with award worthy performances from its cast of seasoned professionals and newcomers alike.
Davis tells Saroo’s story in halves, with Lion’s first act bringing us into the harsh, unforgiving, yet often beautiful surrounds of India as Saroo (played wonderfully by newcomer Sunny Pawar, who could just be the films acting MVP) finds himself thousands of kilometres from home and thrown into a dangerous procession of events, then switching the action to an older Saroo (now played by the ever impressive Dev Patel, mastering an Australian accent like many others could only dream of) now at home with his adoptive parents in Hobart but ever wondering about his blood family back home.
It’s always a danger with these type of narrative set ups that one section will trump the other, but Davis keeps everything in Lion in check and each component of the film fits perfectly in with the others. Saroo remains a constant and likeable presence throughout as both a young boy and an adult coming to grips with what has happened to him and his families, and with solid support from the likes of Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and the king of great supporting turns David Wenham, Lion packs a carefully developed emotional wallop that in the wrong hands could’ve come out as manipulative and twee, but instead comes forward as true and full of heart, just like the story it is telling.
One of the awards seasons most likeable and crowd pleasing experiences, Lion is a heart-warming true life tale that is delicately handled by its crew behind the camera and masterfully acted out by those in front of it. Filled with touching moments, Lion is a film that will resonate with all from young and old and is another shining example of the films that can be produced here on our fair shores.
4 ½ jalebi’s out of 5