Directed by Garth Davis
Based on true events, Lion follows the journey of a 5-year-old Indian boy, Saroo, when he gets stuck on a train and travels thousands of miles away from his home. The lost boy eventually finds himself in an orphanage where he is adopted by a family in Australia. Twenty years later, Saroo begins to search for the home he left behind in India, hoping to be reunited with the family he lost all those years ago.
I have been eagerly wanting to see Lion since I first heard about it at last year's London Film Festival. The film was gaining a lot of buzz for its inspiring story and fantastic cast. I had high expectations for Davis's film, yet, in some ways, the film actually left me underwhelmed... But just a little.
There is no denying that Lion's greatest asset is its story. The true and tragic story of Saroo's lost home will tug at the heart strings of even those with the coldest of souls. It's a beautiful story of how a lost boy found his way home. But, for me at least, the film didn't do Saroo's story justice. The biggest problem I had with the screenplay was the pacing. There was a disconnect, for me, between Saroo's past and his present. There was no solid link that brought the two time periods together, which made it difficult to associate the young child with his older self. I had a hard time connecting Patel's Saroo with the innocent little boy lost in Bengali. The two performance work brilliant on their own but not
Perhaps it was the linear and straight forward telling of the story that caused the disconnect. Maybe telling the story nonlinearly would have created a better association between the Saroo of the present and the Saroo of the past. It would have better acclimatized Patel's Saroo to the audience, rather than having a massive jump in time and causing disassociation between the actors and the character. When it came to the emotional climax of the time, I was completely unresponsive because of the overwhelming disconnect, which is sad because that was what I was most looking forward to.
Yet Davis succeeded with the cast of his film. Every actor in this film gave memorable, emotional, and powerful performances. Nicole Kidman, despite having little screen time, was memorizing as Saroo's adoptive mother Sue. She glowed with affection and love for her adoptive son. Dev Patel and Rooney Mara were equally as enchanting on screen. Their chemistry was infectious, and they each gave a powerful and provocative performance. But the real standout of the film was the incredible Sunny Pawar as young Saroo. At a such a young age, Pawar was able to give a beautiful, moving, and soul performance, which is more than you can say for a lot of Hollywood actors. He was the star of Lion and truly made the story come to life.