Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Film: 'Lion'

Most of those who were attracted to this film will probably have seen it by now. Being a Johnny-come-lately on this one, I'd already seen and heard more than a few reviews which, to my disadvantage, nearly all led me to expect something really special. And so the first section indeed turned out to be. However, even though just about everyone is saying how the second (and longer) part falls a little bit below the standard of what came before it, I'd go further and state that, for me at least, this final section dragged almost fatally. Could it have anything to do with this part, in contrast to the first, containing the performances of at least two big-name stars, Dev Patel and Rooney Mara, as well the internationally known and generally admired Nicole Kidman (count me as a fan!), it overbalanced the production? That's how I was feeling as it was playing.

The film begins with five-year old Indian boy Saroo (Sunny Pawar - extraordinary) being separated from his older brother and, sleeping on a stationary train, finds himself being carried some 1500 miles to Kolkatta, where he has to survive alone in this huge, unknown and crowded city, fending for himself, joining street children, and chillingly escaping from the clutches of those who are bent on exploiting any homeless child, This first part is necessarily very episodic but no less horrifying and suspenseful for that. Little Saroo, heartbreakingly calling for his mother and brother, gets taken to an orphanage where, eventually, through press announcements containing his photograph, lead to his being offered a home in Tasmania by a childless couple (David Wenham and Kidman). On arriving in Australia he makes a good impression even though he himself is rather lost. Things take a dramatic turn when a little later, another similar-aged, orphan Indian boy joins the family, a boy with mental health difficulties.
Jump forward twenty years and the former boy (now played by Dev Patel) is seen almost from the start, pining over his lost home and mother and brother. His foster parents are aware of this and are understanding, but his mood is rather hammered home long after we've got the message (a number of brief flashbacks shown). He finds a girlfriend in Rooney Mara, but time and again he's sidetracked into searching for his roots (and causing some friction), now with the help of Google-earth.
After the high activity of the film's first part this following section seems relatively static in comparison - too long, I thought, for balance. I'd have been happier with the first part being extended or, better, the second being edited down.
I must say, though, that I did find Saroo's inevitable return to his home in India near-tearfully moving. 

This seems to be director Garth Davis' first feature film, and there's little doubt that it's an auspicious start.  
Photography throughout is first-class though several times the background soundtrack music teetered on becoming overbearing. 
However, finally and crucially, I did feel that the film was needlessly weighted down by the over-stated Tasmanian section.................6.5

6 comments:

  1. It was worth the effort purly for tbe first half...i was strangely unmoved by the lassie come home moment

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    1. The opening section was thrilling though extremely disturbing, J.G., yet not too surprising. I think the homecoming touched me more because by then I was waiting for the long delayed resolution, so when it came it was a relief. But overall it's a good film.

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  2. I want to see this one. It sounds good.

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    1. It's 'good' without doubt, Sol, though I think its faults, especially in the Dev Patel section, doesn't deliver that final push to make it 'great'.

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  3. I finally saw this movie! The young actor in the beginning was extraordinary, wasn't he? So expressive; when the plane takes off from India, and he realizes he's truly leaving, the look on his face was pitch perfect. I admit I am a Dev Patel fan, having watched him grow up almost through his movies, so I also just enjoyed him. My son took me to see this today as a birthday gift so maybe that is why I found the story so touching.

    And the fact that the brother had been dead the whole time? Heartbreaking.

    I am hoping to see Moonlight before it too leaves theaters...I am slightly behind everyone else in movie viewing...

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    1. I'm with you on 'Lion' for everything you say, Elle, but I did find it a problem that for me (and many others) it was a film of two unequal halves. though even as a whole I'd still recommend it as being highly satisfying.

      'Moonlight' is altogether something quite exceptional and I do hope you catch it in a cinema. It could have turned out disparate too in having three actor playing the lead at different ages (though with just the one acting 'mother'), but it manages not to be that. It's more than certain to end up as one of my 2017's best films.

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