Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.
A picture says a thousand words, and that is exactly what is needed to convey the sheer reality of day-to-day living within a third world country - and thatís just the living aspect - nevermind being a young child on the streets of India having no one but yourself to rely on and survive. Lion as a film exceeds in that area, with shots that manage to remain beautiful regardless of the grim content on screen and then flips the script in its latter half, with the modern world standing in stark contrast to its humble beginnings.
In addition to that are the debut performances of both Sunny Pawar as a young Saroo and Abhishek Bharate as his brother Guddu, itís astonishing that Lion is their first ever acting performances as they knock it out of the park and weíre sure to see much more of them in the future.
One of the best aspects - and obviously in part because itís based on a true story - that Lion exudes, is never shying away from the darkness of life, showcasing an environment of Ďsurvival of the fittestí or in some cases Ďsurvival of the most depravedí, in which it truly is a miracle to come out unscathed - both mentally and physically.
But within that harsh reality resides the films heart, the family of Saroo who continue to haunt him well into adulthood and travel within him across the globe. That feeling of a hole missing within Saroo, being unable to move on in his life, is palpable on screen and portrayed brilliantly by Dev Patel.
Itís quite the feat that Lion is the directorial debut of Garth Davis, speaking to his obvious talent in the medium with a truly beautifully shot film that has a great sense of scale and distance throughout, itís veteran work and highlights a bright future for the budding filmmaker.
But being an autobiographical story, it's both a blessing and a curse for Lion, with an odd pacing present throughout. Obviously life isnít a movie, and things begin and end when they need to, unfortunately that aspect isnít the best way to digest a story in the visual medium - wherein weíre used to peaks and valleys - to ramp us up and let us down. That ever present flow of film is missing within Lion, but honestly it works to its advantage coming across as a far more realistic and less dramatised portrayal because of it.
- 5 Out of 5 Stars
Lacks that familiar film flow
Conveys a real sense of longing
Release Date: 20th January
Runtime: 1 hr 58 mins
Director: Garth Davis
Starring: Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Bharate, Priyanka Bose, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham & Rooney Mara
- Life of Pi
Yes, whilst violence and depravity is implied, it's not shown on screen. Though the slow burn aspect of the movie is unlikely to enthrall children.
Dev Patel took 8 months preparing for the role; from bulking up in the gym, developing an Australian accent, visiting India and taking the actual train journey of the young Saroo.
The 8-year-old Sunny Pawar was originally unable to attend the US premiere because he was denied a visa. Producers of the film made an appeal to Homeland Security, after which Pawar and his father were allowed to come to the US.
Sunny Pawar didn't speak English when filming began and bonded with Nicole Kidman, his on-screen mother, by playing cricket with her - scenes which eventually made it into the film.