Posted Oct 14 2016
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LFF 2016 - Lion

Dir: Garth Davis

Starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Sunny Pawar

In adapting the true-life story of Saroo Brierley, director Davis has made an affecting movie that probably works better in its earlier stages than it does in its middle journey. A beautifully unmannered Sunny Pawar plays Saroo as a child of the Indian slums, who finds himself stuck on a train and hundreds of miles away from his mother, brother and sister in a remote part of Northern India. Indelibly lost from his family, young Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple (Kidman and Wenham) and shipped off to Tasmania. Years later, having grown up in a world of relative privilege and security, an adult Saroo (Patel) seeks out his biological family, through the wonders of Google Earth, no less.

That Davis’ film works better in its earlier moments probably has more to do with the remarkable performance of young Pawar – and the natural empathy he invokes – than it does Kidman’s series of unfortunate hairdos that follow. As the man the child becomes, Patel does a very strong job for the most part, but as his obsession at finding his real “home” develops, the film is less and less certain of how to convey the emotional sate he is reduced to, and casts him adrift, even if it does actually reflect what the real-life Saroo went through.

Naturally enough, we know where it’s all heading, and all those involved in the film’s climax do indeed acquit themselves with suitable aplomb. It may not be quite the Oscar slam dunk you feel the makers were anticipating it to be. But “not a dry eye in the house” would not be an inappropriate way to term it denouncement.

Catch Lion at the LFF on 15 October

For more info go to www.bfi.org.uk/lff

 

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