Lion has been out in theaters for a couple weeks, but I’ve had trouble finding time to see it with all the other award movies that have been released, but I was finally able to go out to the theater to see it. Lion was pretty heavily featured at the Golden Globes as it was nominated for best drama movie so I went into this movie with pretty lofty expectations. The review will be spoiler free so that you can go out to the theater without any spoilers. Be sure to comment with your own thoughts at the bottom of the page!
Lion is directed by Garth Davis and stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, and Nicole Kidman. The film follows Saroo who gets stuck on a train that takes him thousands of miles away from his family. Thankfully he gets adopted by an Australian couple who raise him as their own. Years later, an older Saroo (Patel) attempts to find his way back home with the help of Google Earth and some fleeting memories to find his first family.
By the synopsis alone, Lion has the ability to be a very touching, heartwarming movie. Who wouldn’t cheer and root for a man to find his family? I’ve been a fan of Dev Patel since Slumdog Millionaire. He has a certain charm about him that you can’t help but latch onto as an audience member. He’s had some missteps recently with movies such as The Last Airbender and Chappie (yikes), but he wasn’t necessarily bad in either of those movies so I’ve remained hopeful for him to give us another standout performance.
In the same vein as Dev Patel, I’ve been waiting for a very long time for Nicole Kidman to give us a great performance. She’s been a good actress for many years, but we haven’t been able to latch onto anything from her in a very long time. I’ve missed seeing the Nicole Kidman I watched in movies like Moulin Rouge! and Eyes Wide Shut.
After viewing Lion, I can happily say that the movie a very solid time at the theaters.
Arguably my favorite part of the movie comes from the performance from the young Sunny Pawar as Saroo during his childhood. Not only does he do a wonderful job carrying the story for the first act, he is just so unbelievably adorable. I heard a couple audibles “aww’s” from the audience the first couple times he had dialogue. This was pretty perfect casting because you can’t help but get wrapped up in the story and get a little teary-eyed as young Saroo struggles early in life. But Sunny is more than just a cute face, the first 45 minutes or so of the movie is practically just him as he wonders the streets of India. A bad performance could have easily derailed the entire movie, but Sunny Pawar gives a great, emotional set up for his older self (played later by Dev Patel) to pick up the narrative from there.
However, the narrative overall for Lion is a bit hit or miss. The film does a great job of adding weight to the central story of Saroo trying to find home. You are completely invested as Saroo continues his search. The film even sets up a nice moral dilemma about whether Saroo should continue his search for his family or honor his adoption parents by treating them as his real parents. However, the other side plots of the movie felt very underdeveloped with hardly any payoff. The film’s run time is approximately two hours, but it flew by. I happened to look at my watch in the theater and was shocked to see that the movie had less than ten minutes left. The film could have easily been fifteen minutes longer in order to give more weight to those stories and I wouldn’t have even come close to becoming restless.
But that fact doesn’t hamper your enjoyment too much. The movie is so inherently watchable because of the performances from Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. Patel really wraps you into the story. He has a couple moments where he’s just emoting and it easily make the tears flow if you’re not careful. I was very happy to see Kidman return to form as well. I would love to see her nominated for best supporting actress. She just gives a really heartwarming performance based off of a truly wonderful person. The pure strength and love she shows during the movie just make you feel good, and that’s hardly a feeling that can be replaced.
Lion in general, for that matter, just makes you feel great leaving the theater. It’s a really nice change up from the other, more depressing, awards-geared movies. Everyone in the theater left the movie with a smile because the movie tells a pretty remarkable story about very, very nice people.
To conclude, Lion just makes you feel great. I was most certainly willing to overlook some flaws because of this. Lion gets a B+. It’s most certainly worth your time!
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