This week I saw Lion with a friend who recommended it. I’d never heard of Lion, didn’t know what to expect and this was the director, Garth Davis’s ‘feature debut’ (he hadn’t made anything else that I could compare to) so I really had nothing to go on. The trailer looked like a made-for-TV drama, at least to me, but then I’m a little unfair to movies (and trailers) that are not my preferred genre. But when we bought our ticket, the box office guy told us that it was excellent and that we were in for a treat. I still didn’t know what this movie was really about going in.
A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.
Actually the IMDB synopsis above pretty much sums it up. Boy gets lost in Calcutta, gets adopted by couple in Australia, later looks for where he got lost from originally,end of film. That is exactly what happens during the entire movie. But watching it unfold is amazing. Seeing the story unwind, the way a five year old boy comes to get so irrevocably lost and what he does then, it was magic. And every event afterwards had this riveting quality, you were THERE with the lost 5 year old boy. Even though it was a quiet little drama, I could not leave to go pee.
See this is what happens when you don’t skimp on the writing budget. You get a movie perfectly paced and logically consistent. There wasn’t one moment where I thought “_____ doesn’t work that way”, because everything was realistically presented. I later found out it was based on a true story which explains the credibility, but that isn’t actually a help to writers. Portraying true events can be trickier than fake ones because the facts don’t always fit a compelling narrative. And this WAS a compelling narrative. And nothing was wasted – even the quiet slow moments at the start come back towards the end.
Part of it was the acting – every character was absolutely believable. Child actor Sunny Pawar was incredible, Abhishek Bharate also; I could go down the list, they were all good. Even Nicole Kidman was great and I’m not normally a fan. And Dev Patel, my goodness he was best of all. Not only did he give a fantastic performance but he’s very handsome and was occasionally shirtless. This movie even didn’t need to supply that to get my approval, but I’m grateful it did.
So is Lion worth watching? Yes, definitely. I think it’s up for an Oscar and I can see why, this was one of the best put together movies I’ve seen in awhile. Even the length, 118 minutes, only seemed about 3 minutes too lengthy (that’s right, I didn’t like the very last 2 or 3 minutes of the film, I think I could have done without that.) But even so, Lion is excellent and you should absolutely see it. As the film wrapped up there was not a dry eye in the place.