Lion is the powerful true story of a five-year-old Indian boy named Saroo, who gets lost from his family and adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, Saroo sets out to find his real family.
There are rarely times when I am emotionally moved by films based on true stories, but surprisingly, Lion was able to grab hold of my heart through its beautiful performances, writing, and emotion. Dev Patel delivers one of his best performances, as well as one of the greatest performances of 2016. He steals every scene that he’s in with his quiet and deep emotion that he so exquisitely displays in his character. Not to mention newcomer Sunny Pawar, who blew me away in his performance as Saroo at a much younger age. It is rare to see such strong work being delivered by such young actors, and I’ve only seen such realistic work like what Pawar beings to the screen being delivered by younger actors this year in Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. Puwar is the anchor of a large portion of the film, and with his great dialogue and soul, he carries his part of the film extremely well. Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman are both wonderful, as they dig into their roles and bring lots of life into their characters.
What makes Lion so potent and affecting definitely comes from its writing. Screenwriter Luke Davies writes a script that keeps the film well-paced, focuses on the important aspects of Saroo and the people around him, and makes you emotionally attached to the characters of the film through thoughtful themes and humanly characters. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, focusing on wide shots of the film’s marvelous locations, which include India and Australia. The movie’s score is also dazzling and definitely deserving of its Oscar nomination. Some people may not enjoy parts of the film as much as others, but I felt immersed in this true adventure that never gives up on speaking to its audiences. Every tear you may shed will be worth it, and every emotion leading up to a stunning climax will never fail to reach out to you. Lion is a brilliant biopic that will be emotionally challenging for many, but the journey is definitely worth experiencing.