Dev Patel in Lion

Lion (Film Review) – Slow, Sad But Good

Lion is a drama directed by Garth Davis and stars Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman. The film is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley who was separated from his family in India at five-years-old and adopted by an Australian couple. In the first half of the film, Saroo is a young boy played by Sunny Pawar while Dev Patel plays Saroo in the second half as a young man who seeks to find his way back home to his family nearly half a decade after his disappearance.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Lion

This film got a limited release late last year and was widely praised. Indeed, the acclaim that Lion received has led to it recently gaining some Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor and Actress for Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman respectively. I had not heard much about this film prior to its Oscar nominations and the awards recognition it has received meant that my expectations going into Lion were high.

Sunny Pawar in Lion

My Thoughts on Lion

Similar to La La Land, while my expectations for Lion were not fully met, I found it to be a good film. At its core, Lion has a pretty incredible and emotional story, great cinematography and good performances from the cast. Certainly, Patel gave his best performance since Slumdog Millionaire but I thought that Sunny Pawar was absolutely brilliant in the film. He was so sweet and likeable and for a boy of his age to carry half of the film is a massive achievement.

Still, this brings me onto one of the problems I had with Lion in the fact that, for me, the first half of this film was much stronger than the second. It had more focus and was better paced. Indeed, the whole film is a bit of a slow burner which does limit its re-watchability along with the fact that this is not exactly a happy film. Indeed, even the end of the film where Saroo finally reunites with his family is bittersweet but it is nonetheless very emotional.

Nicole Kidman in Lion

Yet, for a directorial debut, Garth Davis did a good job with Lion, especially as the film is beautifully shot and we do connect to Saroo. But, I do feel that in terms of storytelling, he missed a trick by not focusing enough on the dynamic of Saroo’s adoptive family. It is touched upon at times but it is brushed over time and time again and I feel we would have gained a much deeper connection than we already had with the characters in Lion.

This is especially true with Nicole Kidman who I feel was underutilised which is a shame because she was really good, with one scene with Patel towards the end being a highlight of what, on the whole, is a good film despite the issues I had with some elements of it. There is enough emotional weight within the story, good performances and stunning cinematography to make Lion a film I would recommend you seeing even though you may not feel like you want to watch it again afterwards.

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