Lion – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Lion – 3.5/5 – Genuine feel good stories come in many forms.  Within the various mediums; film helps bring a visual spectacle to the heartwarming tale.  In retrospect; these are a dime a dozen.  I have seen many ‘Feel Good’ Stories on the big screen that they have become very predictable.  Every so often, there are some that hit a high note passed that predictability.  Lion is another ‘Feel Good’ true story tale built on the likes of a lot of familiar tropes; but it is the characters and journey that lends itself to something truly gratifying.  In the end, Lion is a film that will be welcomed by viewers as a good time at the theaters.

Premise: A young boy survives alone in Calcutta after getting separated from his family.  25 years later in Australia, the boy perseveres to find his family through mapping technology.

At the heart of the film is the main character of Saroo.  He is played by two different actors:

Sunny Pawar as the Younger Saroo

Dev Patel as the Older Saroo

There are two actors because there are two sides of his story being told.  In both respects; the actors do an amazing job in creating a vital, versatile and poignant character.  You see that (no matter if it’s the younger or the older version) he has to learn, adapt and evolve to his surroundings.  No matter which actor you see; you get them in a context of something deeper and fragile of the human soul.  This brings out an indifference of settling in something better but being estrange from your real family.  It is in these dire straits that brings about an array of situations that encapsulates the character in loneliness and depression.  Even with some dreary times; it’s the compliment of hope that drives the character.  This gives him a hearty dimension; showing proof in his interactions with others and perseverance to finding the truth.  Dev Patel is nothing short of amazing in this role; showing the complexion of someone caught in this situation.  The new comer (Sunny Pawar) helps bring about that true innocence of a young boy.  Even for some deep issues that happen, he knows what everything means and what he must do to survive the streets of Calcutta.  With the rest of the cast, there are a lot of known names and foreign newcomers.  You can refer to the full list at the IMDB page.  In short; they all do an amazing job in complimenting the story and the two actors in the main role.  Being strong secondary characters; it helps add to the layers of the world around.  There isn’t much that screams viable and depth; but it is enough to bring them above the one-dimensional archetypes that play throughout any typical ‘Feel Good’ type film.

The direction tackles the story with the common ‘tale of two halves’ approach.  From this, there is the typical ‘Intro’ of the characters and the major plot, but it is this separation of the young and older version of Saroo that helps propel the story’s girth.  In the driving plot device, you see Saroo become separated from his family (early in the film).  From this point, it is an infusion of survival and living for a child without a family.  There is an ominous tone that dwells while watching this part of the film.  There is no sound or ‘visually’ driven techniques; it is all focused on the boy and his tale of living on the streets of Calcutta.  As this happens; it is the humanizing approach that helps grip you to his journey early on in the film.  Trying to find a way back home, he goes through challenges that a child shouldn’t bare alone.  Even so; his wit and quick decision making helps him head into a better path.  Once the story marks a shift with a ‘pivotal’ plot point; we are flashed forward to the older Saroo and his life in Australia.  We watch as the boy becomes a man; becoming more thoughtfully driven in his quest to find his real family.  Through some tough moments with other characters (specifically his lover and step mom); you get to see a dynamic that dwells on the themes of strength and hope.  It is one that helps bring out a ‘ying/yang’ of the distraught notion of the moment; knowing that even for the hardship Saroo faces he must find a way to persevere.  Once we get into later part of the second half; things start to come to fruition within his journey.  As certain ‘convenient’ plot driven elements come into play, that ‘full circle’ climax becomes all too real.  Even as the predictably of the true events become displayed; it is that humility of the situation that becomes raw and telling.  Once the film heads into its epilogue; it is a familiar sense of the whole ‘Feel Good’ Mantra you would come to expect.  It is one that will make you smile in the end.

The visuals are a great vision on two different societies.  With the aspect of this story taking place in India and Australia; it gives you a great show on how social and family structures are there within the 21st century.  Even with that simple aesthetic; it is one that allows for the characters to shine strong and the depth of the situations to bear vividly.  The music is mute at best; not having a real purpose in the film.

Lion is your common ‘Feel Good’ movie’, but it is one driven to higher plains because of the characters and the journey.  If you’re a fan of these types of film, I say check this one out.  It is worth going to see at the theaters.

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