Lion (2016) Poster

(2016)

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9/10
Not just another Oscar bait movie
moviewizguy19 October 2016
Do you know the feeling you get when you go into a film with no expectations at all or thinking it might be decent, and the film turns out to not only be good, but blows you away by how amazing it ends up being? That's LION, and if you've been watching films for several years like me thinking you've seen everything committed to cinema, it's a fantastic feeling to be proved wrong.

Let me explain to you exactly what I experienced while watching LION: Almost half of the film is in Hindi, which lends incredible authenticity to the story, not that BS where they have actors in which English is their second language speak English for the sake of sparing the American audience from reading subtitles (I'm looking at you, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, and every other Hollywood movie ever made). In fact, the entire first act takes place in India, where about 40 minutes of the film rides on the shoulders of a first time child actor – played by the wonderful Sunny Pawar – and it's one of the best first acts I've seen in years. Think of it like the silent first act of Wall-E; it feels like it can be its own film, yet the filmmakers do a great job connecting the story once Dev Patel comes on screen.

On top of that, the filmmaking is impressive. The script is fantastic, the cinematography is lush, the soundtrack complements the film really nicely, and the pacing is on point where it rarely feels like it's dragging, despite the story taking place over the course of 25 years. Every actor in here is also terrific in their roles. As stated earlier, Sunny Pawar makes a compelling lead for the first third of the film. If Oscars were given to kid actors, he would have a damn good chance at winning one. For the last two thirds, Dev Patel more than carries the rest of the film, giving an emotionally naked performance worthy enough to top his role in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Finally, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham are ace, despite all of them having limited screen time.

In a time where diversity is being talked about more in the film industry, LION makes a compelling case for having diversity in storytelling. It's not about a guy meeting his girlfriend's parents for the first time. It's not about a group of friends going in a cabin in the woods. It's not even about a guy/girl struggling with the death of his/her father/mother/son/daughter/dog. No, LION is a personal story unique to South Asians growing up in India, and it's refreshing and easily one of the best films the year has to offer. Don't dismiss this as yet another Oscar bait movie put out by the Weinstein Company – it probably is one. But the film is much more than that. With a distinct vision from director Garth Davis, LION offers an enthralling story that deserves to be seen by everyone.
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8/10
Powerful story, will move you to tears. Be sure to bring plenty of Kleenex.
FelixFelicis15 September 2016
Just saw this at TIFF . I saw the trailer a few days before the screening and I have to admit the trailer alone made me a little emotional. I mean just the thought of a 5 year old separated from his family for 25 years is bad enough, add in the fact that he was lost in India, a country of over a billion people and was the child of an uneducated poor single mother and you are looking at a very stressful situation.

This happens there everyday..and most children never find their way back. They either end up dead or in the hands of heartless people who use children for various illegal / unethical operations. The fact that one boy survived this situation and went on to tell his story is very inspiring and this fantastic film did justice to showing it on screen.

There wasn't a single scene in the movie which doesn't suck you in. Hats off to Dev Patel. He managed to make you feel the character's pain just by the way he looked at a jalebi (indian sweet that his brother and him fantasized about back in India). Special shoutout to the young actor who played little Saroo. His performance blew me away. It would be difficult to watch any child go through what he did and the fact that he was absolutely adorable looking made it even harder.

The movie explores some great themes: What happens to lost children in developing countries? How do poor, illiterate citizens of a country go about finding their lost children...who helps them? What are the dangers faced by these lost children? Why do certain people choose to adopt? How do adopted children adapt to their surroundings? Especially when they're transplanted so many miles away from home where they do not even speak the language. Do children every fully recover from traumatic childhood experiences? Does one forget their original family if they never see them again after the age of 5? As an adopted child do you ever completely feel like you fit into your new life? What is the bond with your adoptive parents like? The film touches upon all these themes while primarily being about the physical and emotional journey of a young man finding his way back home with very few clues to work with.

I kid you not, I could hear the whole theatre crying during several parts of the movie and most people had tissues in their hands. So be prepared. If you're in the mood for a heart wrenching drama with an uplifting ending, go watch this one once its out! The lead cast as well as supporting members have all done a wonderful job. You will not be disappointed!
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10/10
Truly Exceptional
jvcksonsmth14 September 2016
May I start this off by saying that I'm astonished at the extremely unfair negative, even 'mixed' reviews the film has gotten so far... The film is not even remotely close to being average, it's far, far, beyond magnificent.

By now you probably know the synopsis, so I'll add for those who haven't seen the film that it's visually stunning, the acting is superb (special mention to phenomenal newcomer Sunny Pawar, who plays 5 year old Saroo) and the story is so gripping and moving, that there wasn't a dry eye in the house when the film reached it's emotional climax.

I've been thinking about this film since I saw it, there's drama, mystery, romance, a whirlwind of emotions throughout the 2 hours - in the best way possible.
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9/10
Couldn't stop crying
Ian Young4 October 2016
This is such a beautiful film, with a simple story line, without any frills.

A young Indian boy leaves their village with his older brother to do some "jobs", in one of these jobs he gets lost and cannot find his way back home. Pass some years and he's adopted by a family from Australia, and when that boy becomes an adult, he starts wondering where he's actually from.

It deals with aspects of origin and identity, and that we cannot escape from who we really are.

Superb, superb acting from everyone, from the little Indian boys, specially Sunny Pawar that plays the young Sarro, to Dev Patel who has clearly matured into a top class act and is endearing and touching playing the older Saroo.

I'm certainly watching it again.
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10/10
Such a powerful film!
Josh Barton14 December 2016
Missing child cases are ones that really do send a shiver down the spine, the uncertainty of the child's whereabouts or whether in fact they are actually still alive being the major worries. You can't possibly understand the effect it must have on a family. In Garth Davis' Lion, we see the effects of such a case on the child rather than the family left behind.

Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is a five-year-old child living in a remote Indian village with his mother, brother and sister. Spending his days helping his brother steal coal from trains, Saroo joins his brother for a job one night but finds himself lost and on a train to Calcutta, nearly two-thousand kilometres from his home village.

Surviving many challenges and meeting various faces, Saroo is eventually adopted by an Australian couple, John and Sue Brierley (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman). Twenty-five years later, Saroo (Dev Patel) decides to track his lost family down.

I must start by saying that I absolutely loved Lion, a film that deals with such a traumatising true story in such a delicate manner. Garth Davis splits the film into two halves, the first focusing on Saroo as a five-year-old lost in such a densely populated city and the second looking at Saroo as a grown man, so far away from the life he left years before. It is quite tough to watch at times, particularly some scenes of a young Saroo trying to survive on the streets of Calcutta however, Davis' film builds to a truly beautiful conclusion that left me emotionally destroyed.

I think the fact that this is a true story played a massive part in the conclusion having such an impact on me. Davis plays it out brilliantly and the inclusion of real life footage in the end credits, along with startling facts about how many children go missing in India, just added more power to the already powerful film.

Lion doesn't just get its power from the story but from the tremendous performances also. I have always liked Dev Patel as an actor but this is the first time I've watched him give such a powerhouse of a performance as a grown up Saroo struggling to cope with tracking down his lost family. From here, Patel could really go places, starting with awards recognition in the early new year.

Sunny Pawar deserves a special mention for his performance as a young Saroo, lost and alone in such a unfamiliar place. It's always a risk to have such a large portion of the film led by such a young actor but it's ultimately one that pays off greatly in Lion. There's also fine support on offer from Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and David Wenham, ensuring the quality runs right throughout the film.

Lion is a film that I urge you to go and see because a film like this needs the coverage and its subject matter is something people need to be made more aware of.
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10/10
This Film has Oscars written all over it
apioneer11 November 2016
I had not read anything about this film and I went to see 'Lion' yesterday. I was moved, I was shocked. I had tears in my eyes and the hair on my skin stood up. I could listen to my own heart beats while watching this film. It has never happened to me before when I saw a film and I was touched immensely. The film took me back to my roots and streets where I grew up. I am from Pakistan and I have been living in San Francisco for the last 15 years. I come from that part of the world where this story takes place. I grew up in streets like the streets of the movie 'Lion'. I have met many children who collect garbage to make a living and are lost in the streets of this universe. They sleep alone on card board boxes at night and when you look at them , there is a question in their eyes. The world has forgotten about these children and there are thousands of these children on the streets of India and Pakistan. Do you really know what it feels like when you are only 5 years old and lost in some crowded street in a big city and do not know how to get home? To the boy who played Saroo (Sunny Pawar), I want to give you an Academy Award. The film grabs you from the beginning as it starts out with showing a beautiful relationship between two brothers who are running on a train track. The actress who played mother (Priyanka Bose)touched my heart. Her performance is breathtaking. The way she looks at her sons, shows you how a mother pours her heart with love when she looks at her children. There are no words to express that feeling and actress gave her full self and emotions to play this role from young to old. It is commendable and her acting moved me and reminded me of my own mother. There are so many things which I think my mother does not know about me but the way she looks at me, I know she knows.

Lost Saroo looks around for Guddu at the dark train station and then looks for Guddu everywhere, in his thoughts for the rest of his life. What a beautiful role of Guddu played by Abhishek Bharate and what a promising actor! There were some real gripping performances in this film by actors which had only small roles in the film but they left their mark and touched me. I want to give a big hug to Garth Davis for choosing these powerful actors and giving them a chance to express their emotions. I must mention Tannishtha Chattergee, who knew her character and made a mark with just two scenes. Now that's called Actor.

I have always seen Nicole Kidman in great grandeur roles. But I was shocked to see her in 'Lion'. A small role with few scenes. She gave herself all. Her performance in Lion is heartfelt. The cinematographer was able to capture her emotions and her heart on the big screen. David Wenham, plays the part of father to Saroo with amazing acting skills and warmth. Dev Patel, you did a good job.I want to give a big salute to all the filmmakers and actors who were involved in making this film. You have done an exceptional job and gave me something which will be in my mind and heart for a very long time. If any actors or filmmakers want to reach out to me please email at hassanzee-at-gm-ail
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10/10
Incredible true story of a tiny needle in a very large haystack
Fvlecmatic13 December 2016
I've seen 104 movies so far in cinemas this year and I was wondering all year long if I will ever see a movie which will truly deserve a 10-star rating. There were movies like Room, Hacksaw Ridge, Me Before You, Sully or Arrival which are all great and therefore received 8 or 9-stars from me. But today I can safely say that I found my 10-star TOP OF THE YEAR movie.

Lion. An incredible true story of a tiny needle in a very large haystack. So powerful. Deeply moving. It's sad yet uplifting. Not going to tell you the plot but you should definitely find a way to watch this one. There are many strong moments in the movie but for me it was the part when you realize what happened to main characters brother and what impact it must have had in real life on their mothers life. As already said: This is a movie based on real events.

This will definitely be an awards contender. I also have to mention the young Sunny Pawar. You will love him. His acting is phenomenal.
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9/10
An immensely satisfying cinematic experience: visually stunning, narratively powerful, and an emotional whirlwind. Best Aussie film of the year.
CineMuseFilms22 December 2016
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 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 camera-work 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.
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9/10
A movie with a soul of its own
bibo-9363815 December 2016
To put it in simple words, "Lion" is a journey that grabs you entirely ; whether you want it or not, you are a part of each and every scene. Exactly like the hero, you find yourself having visions of a past that you think you have forgotten, you long for something more and you dig for something deeper. This is a journey back home, filled with emotions, hard decisions, and an infinite willingness to reach somewhere safe.. Simple story, dream like sequences and real characters that are aware that "there are no white pages" but that in a way, there is always a black ink somewhere that you can use to finish the endless books that you have in your head. A gem and must see. Highly recommended for the cast's performances, the musical score and the emotional layer that refuses to let you go even after the movie had ended.
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10/10
Gripping and compelling
fionarussell-3947816 October 2016
This film was for me one of the most gripping and compelling films I have ever watched. Nothing was dragged out the whole film was to the point and from the moment it started to the moment it finished I was engrossed with the story. I found it emotionally harrowing but went to see it with my sister during the BFI film festival which I think made the emotional side harder as you could relate to the pain you would feel if it were to happen to you, afterwards we both walked home in silence still playing it over in our heads. Also true praise for the composer the soundtrack was exceptional - so beautifully written and in perfect harmony with the film. A truly exceptional film, this story will stay with me forever. The casting, the story, the cinematography and the amazing music was done perfectly and I actually cannot fault this film. It was truly mind blowing and makes you appreciate how lucky you are to have whatever it is you have In a seriously humbling way. If you appreciate good film, this one, is a must.
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9/10
Grown Lions Will Cry
brankovranjkovic21 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This film is an emotional true story set in the mid 1980's, based on the novel "A long way home". Staring Sonny Pawar as a 5 year old boy "Saroo" from a destitute Indian village. He and his older brother scratch a living selling stolen coal, their mother is a labourer, their lives are extremely tough.

One evening the boys are out looking for work, but they're separated and Saroo falls asleep on a decommissioned train, the train travels without stopping. 2 days later he's 1200 miles from home. The first part of the film follows young Saroo as he tries to survive his new life on the streets.

An orphanage rescue him from begging, scrounging, and living rough. He's adopted by an Australian couple, his new life couldn't be more of a contrast to his original poverty.

The scene jumps 20 years forwards to almost present day, the adult Saroo is now played by Dev Patel, his ambition is to work in hotel management. While studying he learns about a new technology, 'Google Earth', which he uses to view satellite images. Although looking for his village isn't easy and needs extensive searching for obvious landmarks since he has no idea where in the country he's from.

The first half of the film is all set in India and is fabulous in every way - 10/10. The second half is mainly set in Tasmania but loses some atmosphere (IMO).

Stay for the end credits to understand why the film is called "Lion" and also see some photographs of the real people highlighted in the film.

Highly recommended tear-jerker.
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10/10
Cried for England!
Jo white16 February 2017
I first saw Lion on a whim 3 weeks ago and didn't know what to expect as I hadn't even seen the trailer but I was so incredibly moved by Saroo's story that I decided to watch it again 10 days later. It's the kind of film that stays with you hours or even days after you leave the cinema. It's not just an amazing true story but the acting is superb, the musical score haunting and the cinematography stunning. My decision to see it for a second time was partly due to how much I'd enjoyed the film but also in case I'd missed something of importance through all the tears. Well that didn't work out well as I cried even more the second time round as I knew the significance of certain scenes.

All the adult performances were first class especially Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman who shared some very moving scenes together as adult son and adoptive mother but little Sunny Pawar's performance as young Saroo was totally captivating. There isn't much dialogue in the first 45 minutes but his face and especially his eyes perfectly portray his anguish, desperation and loneliness. Unlike some reviewers I enjoyed both distinct halves of the film equally and never lost interest for a moment.

I can't believe for one minute you'll make it through this film emotionally unscathed but if you do then I'm sure the end credits will get you. I don't have anything negative to say about this wonderful film and can't wait for the DVD to be released. I'll finish by using the 2 most used words when reviewing Lion. Take tissues!
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7/10
An incredibly emotional, yet unbalanced, journey
martinaors3 January 2017
I'll start by saying that I'm an incredibly emotional person myself, which means I'm capable of feeling great empathy for most of the characters on screen, but this time I could clearly hear the whole crowd in the projection room crying their hearts out, or at least feeling sad for that little, genuine and brilliant kid played by Sunny Pawar, whose first performance on screen was pure gold.

The first half of the movie would deserve a solid 9, with a rhythmical and powerful editing, mostly long shots (which will most likely make you want to visit India right away) and the tough, indifferent and unscrupulous reality Saroo finds himself fighting against. A strong journey of survival and nostalgia, filled with moments of pure disgust and decay as well as moments of relief and hope.

The second half, tho, is barely comparable to the first one. The script gets slightly weaker, even tho Dev Patel - whose accomplished maturity is unbelievable - is incredibly real and fragile in a wonderful performance, as long as the classy and subtle Nicole Kidman. Rooney Mara is a short, but very pleasant, add to a great cast. Saroo's search for his biological family is way slower and way less powerful than the tough struggle for survival in the first part. But in the complex, Garth Davis' debut on the big screen is more than successful, and the suggestive cinematography, with a wonderful soundtrack and a genuinely good story, make this movie more than recommended.

7/10 is a democratic average between first and second half of the movie.
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9/10
Lost in Train-station.
bob-the-movie-man26 January 2017
India's vibrant and teeming tapestry of life is a natural gift for film- makers, without a word needing to be spoken, and director Garth Davis - in an impressive feature film debut - utilizes that backdrop to the max.

In a true life story, five-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar, in an astonishingly adept child performance) is accidentally separated from his family in the Madhya Pradesh region of Western India and goes on a journey by train of hundreds of miles to Calcutta: a city full of people who don't even speak his language.

Lost, alone and facing the perils of a street child in a dangerous city, Saroo is eventually adopted by a kindly Australian couple (played by Nicole Kidman ("Before I Go To Sleep") and David Wenham (Faramir in "The Lord of the Rings")).

Growing up in a comfortable, loving, but not - ultimately - idyllic home environment, Saroo (now Dev Patel, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel") grows up and in his late teens goes to Melbourne University to study Hotel Management (Dev Patel? Hotel Management? What were the odds?!). While there, memories of the past resurface and an obsessive need to trace his Indian origins takes hold, disrupting both his career plans and his relationship with the love of his life Lucy (Rooney Mara, "Carol"). But with a remembered home-town name that doesn't exist, only hazy memories of the train station he departed from, and thousands and thousands of train stations across India, how could he ever succeed?

India is enormously photogenic and cinematographer Greig Fraser ("Rogue One", "Foxcatcher") takes the maximum advantage of that with some memorable and dramatic landscapes: work that has been Oscar nominated. Also Oscar nominated and contributing strongly to the look and feel of the film is a well-judged and effectively used piano score by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O'Halloran.

In the acting stakes, Dev Patel gives his best ever performance and his Oscar nomination - curiously for Best Supporting actor since, I presume, Sunny Pawar has the most screen time - is very well deserved. A moving performance, particularly at the tearful end of the movie, for which a box of tissues is recommended.

Nicole Kidman, not an actress I have ever hugely warmed to, is excellent here as the fragile adoptive mother, despite having to sport a crazy red curly wig. Another Oscar nomination.

Also worthy of note is young Abhishek Bharate as Saroo's brother Guddu: the touching chemistry between the thieving young rascals at the start of the movie grounds the whole family relationship that's sets up the emotional heart of the subsequent quest.

Luke Davies' adapted screenplay is also Oscar nominated, although perhaps not as deserving to win as some of the other nominees. I would (naively perhaps) assume that adapting a screenplay from a true-life story must be an easier task, since the facts have to speak for themselves. But besides that, while the first half of the film, with the scenes in India, is exceptionally good, the Australian section became a more patchy with the motivations of Saroo's actions and the impact they have on his adoptive family not feeling completely fleshed out.

While I'm sure being a street urchin in Calcutta in the mid-80's was a horribly difficult and perilous existence, the screenplay paints the sense that that almost EVERY male in the city is either a paedophile or hopelessly corrupt: something that if I was a Calcutta resident I would likely take offence to.

However, this is a hugely involving and enjoyable movie, and a "Best Film" rounds off the impressive haul of six Oscar nominations. You might be cynical and view the subject matter as being comfortable Oscar-bait... but you can hardly argue about the absolute quality of the film-making on show here.

By the way, if you are curious as to where the title of the film comes from, you need to wait until the end titles: a masterly touch that I really liked!

The end titles also lay out the fact that the perils of street kids in India is still real and present, and the film is supporting charitable work to help. If you were moved by the film (as I was) you can make a donation at http://lionmovie.com (as I did)!

Highly recommended.

(For the graphical version of this review please visit bob-the-movie- man.com or search for One Mann's Movies on Facebook. Thanks)
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8/10
Waiting for Guddu...
ElMaruecan8226 February 2017
Whenever I wander in the streets of the Moroccan Medina, I feel at home. There's that strange mixture of various fragrances floating in the air: spices, kebab, frying delicacies (not much different from these appetizing jelabis), sea spray from the fish market, tanned leather from the shoe shop and this whole conglomerate smell outsiders or tourists might feel stinky, but as far as "my" senses are concerned, "there's no place like home". I didn't pick it, it picked me.

And maybe there's something innately circular about life, we're born home, we move close or far from it, and there's the need to get back. I even have a personal theory: that even your children can find a deep "connection" with the place you were born in, your home will also feel like home for them. And it is indeed "A Long Way Home", the poignant and inspiring story of Saroo Brierley, born in India, lost at the age of five, adopted by an Australian couple and reuniting with his mother and his family twenty-five years later. What else can be said? It's a simple story but it's often in the most plain-looking grounds that you can find the most precious gems.

Garth Davis' "Lion" is indeed simple in its storytelling; it's linear and straightforward in its clarity. Basically the whole first hour shows poor Saroo looking for his brother Guddu in hostile and overcrowded streets of Calcutta and finding a few moments of relief interrupted by adults, and in the huge lottery of karma, some can look extremely friendly and have sinister motives. But good fate sides with little Saroo and one lucky encounter leading to another, a couple of Australian tourist discovers the 'wanted notice' published in a newspaper and they instantly fall in love with the kid and adopt him. Saroo is then taught English and good manners.

Then, something interesting happens: while I expected some resistance, he actually tries to fit in his new family as if he's aware that there's something really providential in that couple of good-hearted people from Tasmania, played by Nicole Kidman and David Brienham. The one twist that spoils the family harmony is the adoption of a mentally troubled and self-harming Indian boy named Mantosh one year later. "Lion" manages to say a lot without words, from the reaction of Sunny Pawar, who does a fine, subtle, acting job, I could feel that he didn't welcome this arrival with much enthusiasm but wouldn't display jealousy out of love for his new mom.

And the way he grew up was in line with the character. Dev Patel finally makes his entrance as a brilliant young man in his mid-twenties, ready to embrace studies in hotel management, he's also a nice guy like you seldom see in movies, no tortured soul, no rebel, no wimp either and respectful toward his parents. Seeing Patel again made me regret how harshly I judged "Slumdog Millionnaire" but I never commented his acting but a script that took a rather simplistic turn near the end. So, I was glad to see Patel again, playing another guy trying to find a loved one through a "modern device" but I hoped Davis wouldn't derail the film from its beautiful simplicity.

And I had a good scare when his soon-to-be girlfriend, played by Rooney Mara, started improvising a little dance on the streets as it almost felt like there would be some Bollywood number, but it was just her twisted way to seduce him, and it worked… well, to some degree. Personally, she struck me as a too cold and sophisticated girl, I didn't buy that a guy so warm and "sunny" like Saroo would fall in love with a younger version of Kristin Scott Thomas. Even the love scenes made me wonder if Mara wasn't still under the influence of her previous romance in "Carol". Never mind, the center of the movie were Patel and Kidman and as soon as Patel has this delicate 'Proust Madeleine' moment, the story takes off and with the miracle of "Google Earth", Saroo tries to find the way back home.

The film tries to inject some 'suspense' in that powerful journey but that wasn't necessary, I think they could have just compressed the 'research' within the last weeks before Saroo's departure and avoided these little 'pending' moments, only to focus on the relationship with his adoptive mother and some emotional insights about the heights of generosity some hearts can reach. There were many heartfelt statements about adoption that could have enriched the story but the girlfriend allowed Saroo to explain his existential crisis to the audience without never really existing on her own, I didn't care for her anyway. The tormented brother could have made a more interesting foil for Saroo and would have provided a fine back-story paralleling Saroo's experience.

While "Lion" isn't flawless, it's a movie whose emotional power relied on the ending, and when Saroo was getting closer to his home, I could find my own heart beating, that's for the empathy… and that was the price to pay, to earn that teary explosion of happiness and a few emotionally rewarding revelations, concluding one of the few 2016 movies of universal appeal. Indeed, If there ever was one statement to sum up the general appeal of movies, or stories regardless of their narrative medium, I would quote the late Roger Ebert who said "The more specific a film is, the more universal, because the more it understands individual characters, the more it applies to everyone".

Truer words have never been spoken indeed. Garth Davis' "Lion" might have an Australian-Indian protagonist but anyone can relate to him, from India, Iceland, Jamaica, Morocco or any part of the world.
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6/10
Riveting first half but movie loses luster in second half
Paul Allaer4 January 2017
"Lion" (2016 release from Australia; 118 min.) is "based on a true story", we are reminded at the beginning of the film, and brings the incredible story of Saroo. As the movie opens, we are in "Khandwa, India, 1986", and we see 5 yr. old Saroo and his older brother doing whatever they need to do to get by, hustling and bustling. During one of their outings, they get separated and Saroo mistakenly ends up on a train bound for Calcutta, 1000 mi. away. He desperately looks for his mom and his brother, to no avail (for one thing, the boy speaks Hindi and not Bengali), and eventually ends up being adopted by a couple in Tasmania, Australia... To tell you more of the story would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this movie is the big screen adaptation of Saroo's memoir "A Long Way Home", and is directed by Australian newcomer Garth Davis. The movie can be roughly divided into two parts: in the initial 50 or so minutes, we follow the young Saroo as he gets separated from his family and eventually ends up in Calcutta. The second half of the movie brings us the grown-up Saroo, now fully integrated in Hobart, Tasmania in his adopted family. I personally LOVED the first half of the movie, which is truly heartbreaking as we follow young Saroo. There is little dialogue to speak of (remember, Saroo doesn't speak or understand Bengali), and in a way this is the truest survivor story you will ever see. The young actor portraying 5 yr. old Saroo is nothing short of sensational. The photography is gorgeous throughout. Things are not nearly as interesting in the movie's second half. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire; Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) portrays the grown-up Saroo, and does so with pained passion. The same cannot be said of Rooney Mara's performance. I love most of the stuff she does, but here she looks strangely aloof in the proceedings, like she wasn't interested at all in this role (other than it being filmed on location in Tasmania). Nicole Kidman plays the adoptive mother. And am I the only one who was bothered with the way the movie becomes one long advert for Google Earth? On the plus side, there is an outstanding orchestral score, courtesy of Hauschka (!) and Dustin O'Halloran which I intend on seeking out (the movie also features a brand new Sia song "Never Gives Up" which plays over the end credits). A few weeks ago I heard an interview on NPR with the real life Saroo, discussing the film (and unfortunately giving away the entire story including how it all ends). Despite that, I was eager to see the movie.

"Lion" opened at the Toronto International Film Festival to good critical acclaim, and it finally opened in theaters in late December. The New Year's weekend matinée screening where I saw this at was attended quite nicely. I thought that the first half of the movie was nothing short of riveting, if heartbreaking, but the second half of the movie is too obvious and predictive too keep my attention all the way through. Still, this is an incredible story that is worth seeking out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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8/10
Great Film Based on a True Story
Claudio Carvalho24 February 2017
In 1986, in Khandwa, India, the 5 year-old boy Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives a very poor but happy life with his mother Kamla (Priyanka Bose), his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) and his younger sister Shekila (Khushi Solanki). Kamla works carrying stones during the night shift and Guddu also works in the night in the Central Station. One night, Saroo insists on going with Guddu to his work and does not resist and sleeps. Guddu leaves Saroo sleeping on a bank I the station and asks him to stay there until he returns. However the boy wakes up in the middle of the night and decides to seek out his brother in a train. He sleeps again and he wakes up in Calcutta, West Bengal, and 1,600 km east of Khandwa. Saroo does not speak Bengali, only Hindi, and lives on the street of the big city. One day, a young man brings Saroo to the police station and he is sent of an institution for children. In 1987, Saroo is adopted by an Australian family and moves to Hobart, Tasmania. He is raised with love by his foster parents and one day, he goes to an Indian party promoted by his Indian mates from the university with his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara). He tells the story of his childhood and triggers the feeling of missing his family. Now Saroo becomes obsessed to find his mother Kamla and his siblings. Will he succeed in his search?

"Lion" is a great film based on a true story. The first part is a masterpiece and the boy Sunny Pawar steals the show. The plot is heartbreaking with the 5 year-old boy lost alone in the big city and without speaking the local language. There is an ellipsis when he grows up and the film turns into a melodrama inferior to the story of Saroo's childhood on the streets of Calcutta. The conclusion is emotional, with the reunion of Saroo and his biological mother. Along the credits, the footage of the real characters in India will make many eyes brimming with tears. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Lion: Uma Jornada Para Casa" ("Lion: A Journey Home")
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5/10
Great Story, not a Great Film
velutha131 December 2016
Lion is an a amazing story of an exceptionally lucky child grown up to be a man. Lion is not a great film however. It becomes overbearingly melodramatic and overwrought in the second half. I felt like screaming at the main character, go to India and see your family already! This would have been a good documentary. Spare us the Aussie attempt at angst, it just doesn't work. Here we have a lucky young man with a loving family, all grown up in the "lucky country". What's the problem? He can figure out where to go in India to see his birth village, but we have to endure an hour of film with him being moody around his supportive girlfriend and family. Talk about manufactured drama. The scene with Nicole Kidman and Patel seemed pointless - just a contractual opportunity for her to show off her acting chops and make this sellable overseas. Don't be fooled. This is a great story, but poor filmmaking in my opinion.
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9/10
An incredible Story: Something that should not happen to any child
suriyamoorthy-4117826 November 2016
It has been mentioned on this page that one of the writers is "Saroo Brierly (novel)". His book is not a novel. It is a biography. I am from Khandwa where the boy in the story (Saroo Brierly) hails. My residence is just about two kilometres from his mother's residence. A few years ago I met him 'accidentally' and spoke to him briefly. I was totally excited to meet him. He does not know his mother tongue Hindi. He talks with an Australian accent. His book 'A Long Way Home' is worth reading. In the movie his adult role is played by a 'white' man. It should have been a 'brown' man to reflect real appearance. The child actor who plays the role of child Saroo is in fact a child who was washing teacups for a living in a roadside snack shop on the Khandwa-Indore road. His acting and voice are true to what would have been that of a local boy. Saroo's life has touched the hearts of many. In fact his story was topic of a sermon in our little Church in Hyderabad
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6/10
Let's be frank about this...
mallaverack15 February 2017
This is not a great movie - its faults are there for all to see.

So why so many gushing reviews and 10 star ratings? Primarily, I think many reviewers are confusing the great heart-warming story being depicted and the actual qualities of the film. Yes, it is a wonderful story and even more dramatic when considering the fate of young Saroo's brother. But this was a film with two distinct parts and apart from the climax of Saroo's reunion with his mother, the second part was very low-key film-making.

Nicole Kidman played her part well (apart from the most annoying monologue which was delivered in barely a whisper) but hardly 15-20 minutes on screen must surely disqualify her from any Oscar consideration. Her on-screen husband played by David Wenham appeared on screen for seemingly less than 10 minutes with no hope of any true characterization being offered. The adopted brother of Saroo was emotionally and mentally handicapped, yet we know nothing of his plight once again, through lack of exploring character. The inclusion of Roony Mara as Saroo's love interest in the second half of the film appeared almost pointless. Her presence did almost zilch for plot development and it makes you wonder why the producers went to such expense in casting her in the first place.

This second 'Australian' section of the film displayed some lovely bush and seaside settings but really paled in comparison to the exceptional performance of Sunny Pawar as young Saroo in the first half of the movie. To be honest, apart from the pertinent facial expressions, Dev Patel had little to do and less to say. The reputation of this film gains its notoriety almost wholly from the search and final reunion of mother and son in India but the lack of character development, a very average script and the inclusion of too much filler material has resulted in an overall disappointing film
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7/10
Good, but could have been great
bbewnylorac11 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The gorgeous cinematography in India, and the astonishingly natural performance of little Sunny Pawar as the lost child Saroo, are worth the price of admission to Lion. As others have said here, the second half of the film, set in Australia, is a let-down. It's almost like another film. In India, Priyanka Bose is fantastic playing Saroo's desperately poor yet very loving and dignified mother, Kamla. And special mention to Abhishek Barate, as Saroo's much loved big brother Guddu, who does his best to work, with Saroo, to scrounge coal from trains to buy food for their family. Guddu might be a thief and a hustler, but he's so loving and affectionate. Barate brings a lot of heart to his scenes and has great chemistry with the child. The scenes where Saroo gets lost, alone, on a cross country train and later in the streets of Calcutta, are beautifully shot, and not excessive in scripting or soundtrack. The child Saroo is not overly cute or streetwise; but he has just enough luck and instinct to survive - I love the scene where he sneaks in to an outdoor shrine at night and steals some food offerings (after making the prayer sign) while everyone is sleeping. When he arrives in Tasmania and meets his new adoptive parents, the Brierleys, (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) I got the feeling they had no idea what Saroo had gone through, which they couldn't have. And the Brierleys' second adopted son, also an Indian orphan, is even more traumatised, although we never find out what his story is. But once we switch to the adult Saroo, the movie almost comes to a halt in its pacing. Dev Patel is quite good as adult Saroo, (although to me he doesn't resemble the boy Saroo), and his Australian accent is great. The trouble, I think, is the script, which is overly angsty, at the expense of advancing the plot. For Saroo to find an obscure village in India, using just his childhood memories and Google Earth, is a thrilling idea, but it's not well portrayed in the movie. For too many scenes, Saroo simply surfs the online maps, or moves pins around a paper map, but mostly he gets angry and frustrated and morose in his flat. And then one day, as though guided by a supernatural force, his computer mouse is directed to an obscure region of India, and in a few seconds, he's found his family home. I find this unbelievable. Maybe in real life he discovered things bit by bit, and that was impossible to portray on film? The search could have been portrayed in a more diverse way. Didn't he ask around at the orphanage he was brought to as a child? Weren't there some language and cultural clues he could have asked people about? Even the food. Couldn't he have brainstormed with his Indian student friends in Melbourne? Instead, Saroo is portrayed as working alone, and as mostly looking for the water tower that as a child he saw next to a railway station. But as a friend points out, there are many water towers in India near railway stations. Possibly thousands? The character of Saroo's love interest, Lucy (Rooney Mara), comes across as unnecessary and her scenes with Saroo are far too uninteresting. Lion is not a love story - it's the story of a lost child. Ditto Nicole Kidman's scenes. She's not bad, but she's not the focus of the film and she gets too much screen time. So to me, it's a respectable film, but falls short of excellent.
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7/10
Unbelievable tear-jerker
jb_campo18 June 2017
Lion tells the story of a very young boy in India who gets separated from his family for 25 years and his struggle to piece together his past.

Dev Patel plays the older Saroo and is outstanding. He delivers terrific emotion at all the right times. Nicole Kidman is of course outstanding as his adoptive mother. But the real star is the young boy Sunny Pawar who plays the young Saroo. He was just outstanding for such a young actor.

I think the movie could have been better by shortening the sequences of Saroo's anguishing over his past. And we would have benefited from learning more about Saroo and Mantosh. It would have been great to see more growing up scenes with Kidman, though you got enough of a picture to see that the kids were treated wonderfully.

The Hollywood ending isn't one, because it's a totally true story, which makes Lion even more unbelievable. This is the kind of movie to watch when you think YOU are having trouble. Think of this poor young boy lost and alone in a city of millions and your problems should drift away.

Roony Mara's role as the older love interest seemed to be like a throw in, just as a foil for Patel. I wonder if she was real or added in.

Anyhow, solid acting, great cinematography, you'll love Lion. It could just have been tightened up in editing a bit more. Enjoy
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7/10
A man has to reflect on hist true origins after being adopted from an orphanage in Calcutta.
Eden Rabatsch6 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is classic schmaltz and I mean that in a positive way. Being based on a true story gives the film so much more latitude to turn up the emotional essence of the film, perhaps too much. The problem is, to do this you need to build a foundation for a film beyond its exceptional premise and here the film fails to deliver.

Lion is the true story of Saroo Brierly, who orphaned in Calcutta, is adopted by a family in Tasmania, Australia. Upon reaching adulthood he is haunted by the idea of who he is and where his biological family are. Using new technology such as Google Earth, he tracks them down even though he is a continent away.

It is very much a film of two halves. The first half is brilliant. In many respects it would have been interesting had the story stayed in India. The child actors especially both Sunny Pawar as young Saroo and Abhishek Bharate as Guddu, his brother, are amazing and both bring an energy and verisimilitude often missing in child actors. The film then jumps twenty years as we meet adult Saroo (Dev Patel) who is living a very privileged lifestyle with his adopted parents played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham. As Saroo slowly questions his identity the film switches focus and here the film has a major problem.

The whole second act from this pivot is overblown and way too long.

A half hour could have easily been cut from this and it would have been a leaner and better film. The premise is just too slight for the running time and the viewer knowing they are being manipulated just wants the emotional payoff.

The acting in the adult cast is very good across the board. Patel really owns the role and it seems to reflect his growth from geeky man-boy into full maturity. Kidman does a lot of the emotional heavy lifting and is extremely good in a role you don't often associate with Kidman's icy demeanour.

Garth Davis is a debut director, though he is a known gun having directed a few episodes of the great "Top of the Lake" mini series. Davis shines in the scenes about atmosphere and almost like a documentarian in capturing the natural frame. However, when the film becomes about internalised emotions and is limited to screens and small rooms, there is a struggle to give the film the proper pacing needed.

I found it all a bit too manipulative but it a great story and most viewers will enjoy the ebb and flow of emotions. Plus, it is that rare film which is not animated but could be enjoyed by every generation of a family.
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5/10
The Tribulations of a Privileged Dude Who Doesn't Actually Have Any Problems
evanston_dad21 March 2017
Am I the only one who wanted to punch Dev Patel in the face while watching this film? He plays Saroo Brierley, a young Indian man who was separated from his family when he was a little boy, funneled into the Indian orphan system, and adopted by a loving Australian couple. He longs to return to India to see his birth family again, but is torn between wanting to reconnect with his roots and remaining loyal to the people who raised him.

The first half of "Lion" is the film at its best, thanks to the winningly adorable Sunny Pawar, who plays Saroo as a little boy. But once Saroo ages into Patel, the film turns into a saggy, interminable series of scenes in which Patel mopes, lashes out at everyone who's nice to him, and spends every night staring at Google Earth while taking no action whatsoever. What his actual dilemma is is never made clear by the screenplay or Patel's performance. I stated above that he's torn between two cultures, but I'm only conjecturing about that, since that's not shown in the movie. Instead we watch a privileged man surrounded by supportive people whining about how he wants to return to India while we watch him and want to scream at him, "Then get off your ass and just visit India already!!"

Patel was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, but he didn't deserve to be. Nicole Kidman, who plays his adoptive mother, was much more deserving of her Best Supporting Actress nomination. The film also nabbed nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score, but won nothing.

Grade: B-
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9/10
Not for the Cynical
Tim Meade22 January 2017
Lion is the story is of a very young Indian street boy (Saroo) separated from his mother and brother and falling into destitution after an involuntary train journey of 1600km takes him to the Bengal area of India where a different language is spoken. His life turns around when he's adopted by a loving and wealthy Tasmanian couple (Nicole Kidman, David Wenham) and flown to a new life in Australia.

The film skips 20 years and we find Saroo, now played by Dev Patel, a happy and well-educated young man on the brink of a promising adult life. But a minor incident causes a flashback and he becomes obsessed with finding his original family to the detriment of his career and Australian relationships.

The direction is solid and acting good - Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel particularly; the story rarely falters.

Most films are manipulative to some degree, and Director Garth Davis occasionally lays it on a bit thick. But when you leave the theatre and find you're in a majority of the audience with swollen red eyes, who cares?
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