I didn’t know a whole lot about Lion going into it. Well, I knew it had some sort of awards hype, and that I’d probably cry (yay!), but that was it.
Outside of it starring Dev Patel. And you know what? Dev Patel really needs a win right now.
Last year he had Chappie and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. This year he had The Man Who Knew Infinity. Outside of The Newsroom and Slumdog Millionaire, he hasn’t had a lot of hits.
So really, I just hope it is good for him, as I know he is a great actor, he just doesn’t get to be in great films.
Is that the best Lion Face you got? I mean, I get the mane. But wheres the roar?
Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is just a little boy, around 5 year old, living in a small town in India. His mom (Priyanka Bose) is single, so she is a laborer, having to care for four kids. Saroo has an older brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) who he looks up to and convinced him to take him on a small work trip. On the way, Saroo got too tired, so Guddu had to leave him at the train station. As long as Saroo stays there, Guddu will find him after the job and take him home. But when Saroo wakes up he gets scared. He looks around and he is all alone. And he ends up asleep on an empty train, and when he wakes up, he is speeding along the tracks unable to get off for a couple of days. When he gets off finally, he is 1600 km from home in Calcutta.
Being five, he doesn’t know a lot about his home, his mother’s real name, or where he came from. After living on the streets, and eventually getting into an Orphanage, they still cannot find his family. But they have a family willing to adopt him. John (David Wenham) and Sue Brierley (Nicole Kidman). In Australia. In the Tasmania part of Australia. Pretty far away.
Needless to say, he obviously goes, now 7 years old for a whole new life. And 20 years later, he is going to college for Hotel Management. He is older, so that is why Dev Patel is in this movie. He has a girlfriend (Rooney Mara), he has basically forgotten about his past life. Until he sees a reminder in the form of a pastry he always wanted to try. Following the advice of a few friends, he uses this new thing called Google Earth (This was 2008) to find a theoretical circle of travel he might have come from and you know, slowly look over all of it for his home.
And it drives him insane, taking over his life, making him leave his job, leave his girlfriend and talk a lot less with his family. A lot of strain. Given that this is a true story, you can figure out how part of this end.
Also featuring Divian Ladwa and Kershav Jadhav as the other son adopted by the Brierley’s, who has his own sort of problems.
They both lost their families, but Saroo lost his at a bigger scale.
Strangely enough, Lion is actually surprisingly similar to Slumdog Millionaire. An Indian boy has terrible things happen to him in his youth, but eventually something incredible happens to him, and he has to spend a lot of time searching for a loved one. Except Slumdog Millionaire, yes a drama, also has a lot of funny moments and is a romance. Lion is drama, straight through and through, and one that will just make you cry a variety of ways.
We get sad cries AND happy cries with Lion. And not just at a few points in the movie, but just sprinkled throughout it.
A lot of credit should be given towards Sunny Pawar, who was the star of the film for 40-50 minutes. You just feel so bad for the little kid, watching him wander around, escaping bad people, dealing with this shit, AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE. It is heart breaking. He does a wonderful job and will probably be overlooked.
Patel also did a wonderful job, dealing with the angst of remembering his past. And of course the moment where he makes it back home and finds his mother? Yeah, that is when the tears will start flowing. A shout out as well to Kidman, who plays a non-bitchy role for the first time in forever, who brought a lot of emotion as well.
Lion is a great story, well acted, and while it may be emotionally manipulative, it is a good sort of manipulative. Definitely one of the better journeys in film this year.
4 out of 4.