Lion (REVIEW)

Written By Jacob Chimilar (Letterboxd: Sweetlows)

This film will make you hate trains. Like, a lot. But it is a wonderful look at a boy's life and how one small mistake can lead to something life changing. It did drag ever so slightly in the middle, but that aside, it was a sprawling tale of someone who is whisked away from their home at a very early age and has to learn to adapt very quickly to his surroundings only to circle back many years later in an attempt to go home and assure his family that he is okay. It's touching, emotional, full of heart and tough situations surrounding adoption and how parents and children view and handle those experiences in various ways. 

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The casting was really wonderful, everyone was just so spot on all the time. Dev Patel as Saroo has this sadness that is just so heart wrenching and Sunny Pawar as his younger self is just fantastic. It's been so nice to see kids acting so well after all these years of wooden, not too great ones. Dev was great and all but because of Sunny you were hooked and cheering him on by the time it was Dev's turn to take the reigns. Nicole Kidman has a great part in the adoptive mother, dealing with the stresses of a child out of his home and doing her best to give Saroo what he needs in life.

Nice direction, varied cinematography with some great editing choices, knowing when to jump around and when to let shots linger and hold your attention. The score knows just when to swell and fills scenes with emotion that supports the performances without getting too melodramatic. The grit and grime of Saroo impoverished life are starkly contrasted by the pristine living conditions of Australia showcasing the kind of culture shock that can happen to someone plucked from everything they've ever known and gives an interesting framework for the story. Clearly he is better off in Australia but he can't deny India as his home and the pain of not knowing exactly where that is is tough to watch. 

This movie is really quite something. A true story, told simply with believable performances and a kind of life that we really don't get to see much of. A story of families and heartbreak, the fear of the unknown and pushing ahead even when things seem hopeless. It moved me to tears several times and I completely lost it at least twice. It really is a wonderful film that you will not regret seeing.