Quite the decent attempt to tell an emotionally powerful and truly fantastical true story, even if the film falters while delivering its defining moments.
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Lion is 2016 biographical drama film directed by Garth Davis, written by Luke Davies, based on the book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose and stars Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and David Wenham.Keeping this spoiler free, the film chronicles the life and times of a young boy from India who gets separated from his family.
Lion is a well-crafted film. That is pretty much the one sentence review for this film. It is well shot, well edited, well acted, well directed, well made, well scored and well everything else film. If it is so well done, why did this film not resonate with me to a better degree?
The film’s first half is nothing short of riveting. Young Sunny Pawar puts in a brilliant performance. He is instantly relatable without being a sympathy seeker. Multitudes about his character are told without even a single line of dialogue. His journey from his village to Tasmania kept my eyeballs glued to the screen. The film blazes through this part of the story with an extremely compelling narrative style. If the film kept up the level of tension and mastery of storytelling, which was prevalent through its first half, constantly, I would have come out of the film absolutely loving it.
As soon as the second half commences, the film’s pace and impact drop drastically. It is not a knock on the actors and technicians, they do their job very competently. But the film’s story does not match up to the high standards it set for itself earlier. There are a few contrivances here and there and a few unnecessary subplots added in to create conflict when the film’s primary conflict was enough and then some. These two aspects reduce the film’s unabashed straightforwardness, which was its biggest strength. I do not wish to disrespect the life and times of the people who went through these experiences but as a part of the narrative, they feel a bit tacked on.
As a side note, watching Lisbeth Salander be a run-of-the-mill love interest took me out of the film a wee bit. Her role along with the role of the father are seemingly the most one note of the primary cast of characters. But that is more of a personal problem than a problem with the film itself. Going by my aforementioned gripes, the final emotional gut punch the film goes about delivering feels more like a tap than a wallop. But that being said, a few members of the audience in my cinema hall were in tears by the end of the film. So this review might be coming from a very personal perspective and might not reflect the opinions of the audience at large.
The little touches the film used to illustrate that it’s roots are distinctly Indian were a treat for me to decipher. Using recognizable Indian art-house acting talent and one of my favorite fun songs just elevated this film by a few notches. I’m not one to take a stance and stick to it with any film. My opinions are malleable. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might like this film a bit more over multiple viewings but for now, an above average grade is the best I can give it.
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