A Movie Review
Director: Garth Davis
Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Sunny Pawar
Oscar nominated film, “Lion” is the kind that throws your heart against a wall, repeatedly, for two hours. This true-story of a very young, boy, lost in the streets of Kolkata, India, sundered from his hard-working mother and beloved older brother, is a definite tear-jerker. Five year old, Saroo, finds himself hopelessly lost, miles away from his cramped house located in an urban slum, which to him, is home. He faces traumatizing obstacles and spends countless days on his own. In time, Saroo is adopted by a lovely Australian couple, a tender, affectionate, mother and a good-hearted, loving, father. Saroo is raised well and is content with his life. He forgets his previous hardship as grows older, until one day, it all comes rushing back to him. Twenty five years after he is adopted, Saroo puts all his time and effort into locating his old home town. Unfortunately, Saroo’s determination is accompanied by haunting memories of his brother and mother, seemingly putting him in a state of depression. This causes his loved ones to become worrisome, but his newfound, anxious and irritated demeanor is forcing them to leave him to his own devices. We follow Saroo on one unforgettable journey, where he faces, profound regret, sorrow and most of all, remorseful guilt.
There is no need to question whether this film deserves the handful of varied awards that it has won, such as, ‘BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay’. The film is an adaptation of the book “A Long Way Home” written by the very man whose story has become a sensational hit amongst viewers of many interests, Saroo Brierley. The book is the story of his days, wandering alone, being adopted and then, finding his way home.
‘BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role’ was awarded to Dev Patel, who played a mature Saroo. Dev Patel put on a relatively good performance if one considers that much of the action and suspense in the film was taken up by the first half, which followed the traumatic journey of young Saroo. Thus, he was at a very small disadvantage, one might say that he didn’t have much to work with. Yet, when comparing his performance with that of Rooney Mara, who played his love interest, Lucy and Nicole Kidman, who played his adoptive mother, Sue, Patel’s rendition was rather mediocre. Both, Mara and Kidman executed their respective roles expertly. Putting aside the performance of the mature members of the cast, one cannot dismiss the exceptional rendition by eight year old, Sunny Pawar. Little Sunny portrayed the role of five year old Saroo remarkably. His consistent acting skills are rare and his cuteness is overwhelming.
However, it is more than just good acting that separates a good film from a bad one. Looking at the variety of different aspects that a film consists of, one that stood out to me particularly was the music. Many of the songs are soft and sweet, but they convey intense emotions in a truly, magical way. Each song syncs undeniably well with its respective scene. The soundtrack consists of nineteen songs, of which eighteen were arranged by the film’s incredibly talented music composers, Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka. The film features the original song “Never Give Up” by successful, singer-songwriter, Sia.
Aside from its phenomenal soundtrack, Lion has very realistically captured the atmosphere of the, densely populated, bustling, streets of Kolkata. The genuine representation of noise pollution and the chatter of the passers-by is something that I found very admirable, for, there was nothing restraining the sounds in the background, thus allowing a natural atmosphere to be achieved. Every scene is vividly portrayed with images that burn into your brain. They represent the streets of Kolkata in a dull, frightening light. They focus on the dark side of the city, one might prefer to say, the dark aspects of it. I gather, that we see it through the eyes of little, Saroo. He is terrified, upset and confused. Everything we see, is in his perspective.
Fortunately, all of his worries soon disappear and we see that he is very content with his new life in Australia, completely oblivious of his previous life. Yet, it seems as though all of Saroo’s old memories come back to him very suddenly, along with a storm of forgotten emotions. This particular scene of realization is portrayed extremely beautifully and it is my favourite scene, without a doubt. The vague music in the background suits the moment perfectly. Much justice is done to the scene, with the eerie lighting in the kitchen. This scene is definitely one scene that Patel has really worked magic with. We see him taking in the smell of the familiar looking Indian dessert, recalling his love for it as a child and how he’d always hoped to have a lot of it. This is a moment of sheer remembrance, we see glimpses of his life with his mother and brother. From here onwards, Saroo becomes obsessed with finding his old family. It is really incredible how all he ever needed was a small trigger to flip a switch that has been off for twenty five years.
I sincerely enjoyed this film to a great extent. It is an outstanding story and is an exhilarating experience. It is a film of high standards and is a definite, must-watch. Although there are no inappropriate scenes in this film, the intense play with emotions and frightening themes, can be too much for young children to handle, thus parental guidance is advised. The film consists of overwhelmingly emotional moments that will have you in tears, so be sure to have some tissues handy. This amazingly heart-warming film is sure to leave a mark on you, perhaps you will drown in tears of sympathetic sorrow, or immense happiness. Either way, this beautiful film will move you, like none other.