Lion (2016) Movie Review: Nicole Kidman Does It Again!

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“I felt this kind of electric current, electric shock, jolt through me, and there was a little brown-skinned boy across that field. I couldn’t even tell if it was just my eyes playing tricks. And then he was beside me. Just standing there. And I sensed it so strongly. I could feel his warmth.” Sue Brierley (Nicole Kidman)

Thoughts on Lion (2016)?

Does it deserve all the acclaim it’s getting?

Check out my video response below:

 

Find more Old Simo YouTube videos here

Walking into the screening of Lion (2016) I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Was it going to be a quality film of substance or an over simplistic emotionally manipulative melodrama? I kept an open mind and Lion (2016) managed to pleasantly surprise me!

Garth Davis makes an impressive directorial debut and I hope this is the beginning of a wonderful film career for him. Lion (2016) is based on the book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose. I have added it to my reading list.

Lion (2016) begins in 1980s India. Saroo follows his older brother Guddu to do some late night coal gathering work on the train lines. Guddu leaves him to sleep on a bench whilst he goes off to do the work. Saroo awakens and discovers that his brother has not come to collect him.

He boards a train carriage which he gets stuck on that takes him thousands of kilometres away from his village. Being so young, he does not know his surname, his mother’s name and claims to be from “Ginestlay”. It’s a town that is not on the map.

He is taken to a police station by a kind stranger. The police are unable to trace his family, so he is placed in an orphanage. Eventually he is told that an Australian family in Tasmania intends on adopting him. He travels to Australia and becomes the foster child of Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John (David Wenham)

Twenty years later Saroo (Dev Patel) moves to Melbourne to study hotel management. His Indian culture seems foreign to him. He knows nothing about it. He begins a relationship with Lucy (Rooney Mara).

However, as time goes on he becomes more and more intent on tracking his birth mother and real brother. Faint but distinct memories from his past continue to resurface. They propel him to use Google earth technology to assist him in tracking down the location of his birth place and the town that somehow doesn’t seem to exist.

Will he find the town? Will locating his birth mother and brother give him the closure that he needs?

Lion (2016) is beautifully shot. The Indian and Tasmanian locations are vibrant and enthralling. The story itself is simple but effective. It’s difficult not to get swept up in the story and feel the emotions that film permeates.

We feel for Saroo and hope that he is able to eventually locate his family and that it will be a happy ending for all. Lion (2016) manages to be engrossing due to the emotion that is channelled technically via cinematography and editing. There is a beautiful melancholy to it.

The Indian segment is especially good. The young boy that plays Saroo has a good presence. Dev Patel does a good job portraying Saroo as a young adult.

I enjoyed his performance in  Slumdog Millionare and The First Exotic Marigold Hotel and I wondered whether he would follow it up with something worthy. His performance aids in the film’s engrossing quality

However the major stand out in the film is Nicole Kidman! The film belongs to her. She holds the film together and elevates to a position that would not have been possible otherwise. Her performance is beautifully heartbreaking yet emotionally raw.

Kidman is a magnificent actress and completely embodies her characters. She seeps into the skin and soul of Sue Brierley. Hence, she seeps into the skin and soul of the audience.

Lion (2016) is yet another impressive role for Kidman to add to her list of impressive, varied,  and challenging roles. It joins To Die For, Portrait of a Lady, Eyes Wide Shut, The Others, The Hours, Dogville, Birth, The Paperboy, Stoker, Rabbit Hole and and The Railway Man.

The only sour note comes from Rooney Mara and her character. Both Mara and her character are uninteresting and forgettable.  A stronger actress and some extra attention to the creation and development of the character would have been idea.

However, this does not ruin the experience. Lion (2016) is worthwhile film. It will do well during award season and I am struggling to decide whether Kidman or Viola Davis (Fences) should get the Oscar for best supporting actress.

Check out my Moonlight review here

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