Lion (2016)

Lion (2016)

(2016)

The true story of a life lost and found.

Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and Dev Patel star in this true story drama (based on the memoir by India-born Australian Saroo Brierly). 25 years after being lost on the streets of Calcutta and subsequently adopted by a loving family in Hobart, young Saroo sets out to find his birth family. He embarks on this needle-in-a-haystack quest with only a small store of memories, and the help of Google Maps...

Flicks Review

The story of Lion sounds like unfathomably cliché weep-bait, and it absolutely would be if the events had not been 100% true. After a savage twist of fate, a little boy named Saroo finds himself stranded 1700km from his hometown in India. So begins a tremendous return journey that spans decades and oceans alike, as Saroo attempts in adulthood to trace the invisible threads that connect him to the nameless, shapeless place he once called home.... More

Dev Patel (as the adult Saroo) subtly grows his cultural disquiet like a noxious weed, living in Australia after being adopted by the big-hearted John (David Wenham) and Sue (Nicole Kidman). Kidman and Wenham are astounding as a tragedy-laced version of Kath and Kel, torn between wanting their son to feel complete and the fear of losing him entirely as he yearns for his real home and his real parents. This is a family film in the truest sense of the word, the universal themes of belonging and identity should ring true to anyone with a mum or a dad or a kid or a goddamn heart goddamnit.

Lion is a big story told in a considered whisper rather than an obvious, Oscar-belching boom. Although lagging in the second half as a way of stalling the tearful, dam-bursting finale, Lion looks at how cultural upheaval and trauma seeps into the mundane minutiae of everyday life, and the lengths people will travel to plug up the missing pieces in their identity puzzles. From the bustling train stations of Calcutta to the eerie quiet of a Hobart brick ‘n tile, Lion is an astounding, all-encompassing story of hope, determination and dumb luck that will leave you both crying like a baby and clapping like a seal once the credits roll.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY cinemusefilm superstar

If film-art is the pursuit of visual pleasure, powerful storytelling and high emotional impact, then Lion (2016) is the year’s high-water mark for Australian productions. Based on the novel A Long Way Home (2014), this film adaptation is a richly textured essay on the primal human need for belonging that will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered who they are.

This true story is told in two parts and filmed across two continents. Five year-old Saroo is a ragamuffin sidekick to his older... More brother Guddo, two poor boys who support their family by stealing coal and scavenging trains in their West Bengal village. They become separated one night and Saroo finds himself alone on a train heading to the other side of India. He he joins hordes of homeless children who must fend off predators while begging to survive. Eventually he is placed in a crowded orphanage, then adopted by two big-hearted and childless Tasmanians, Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John (David Wenham). Twenty years on, Saroo (Dev Patel) begins to have memory flashbacks of his native land. As they increase in intensity, he becomes obsessed with finding his family. With some luck and Google maps, the story comes full circle.

There is so much that makes this film stand out. The storytelling is more than engaging: it is so captivating that the two-hour run-time feels like an hour. Acting performances are outstanding: Nicole Kidman is at her best while the five year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is the heart of the film and Dev Patel its soul. The cinematography is brilliant, especially the filming in India. The camerawork is both expansive and intimate, shifting often from sweeping aerial panoramas of mountainous Indian countryside and tranquil Tasmanian waterways to narrow winding alleys, village markets, and the inner-world of Saroo’s turmoil. Some of the most powerful scenes are shot from the eye-level of a terrified lost boy jostled by masses of humanity and the close-ups of Saroo’s painful face desperate to know home. The colour palette is exotic, sound track emotionally intense, and the directing finds a rhythm that is almost orchestral.

This film offers an immensely satisfying cinematic experience: visually stunning, narratively powerful, and an emotional whirlwind. It comes at the end of a very mixed year for Australian film, with some of the world’s finest produced but many that are less than inspiring. Lion is one of those films that will appeal to everyone and it has a very long after-taste. It easily tops my film year.Hide


The Press Reviews

  • While unique, Saroo's story is somewhere between the-guy-who-found-a-lottery-scratcher-worth-fifty-bucks and the-farmer-who-prayed-for-rain-and-got-it. Full Review

  • Kudos to Kidman, whose unglam, unguarded take on the role is emotionally powerful and true; her scenes with Patel provide just the right blend of grit and grace. Lion is one from the heart. Full Review

  • We've watched this young man struggle and fight for answers, only to have them drop into his lap at precisely the right moment. It's a drastic misstep that ruins whatever chance Lion had of doing justice to a fascinating true story. Full Review

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