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TIFF 2016 Review: “Lion” (2016) ★★★★★

Credit: © Long Way Home Productions 2015


Credit: © Long Way Home Productions 2015

There are many biopic movies that try to grab the audience’s attention with a stellar cast or with some distractive elements where the story itself becomes not so important. Of course, having super talented actors help, but what about the human story that we come to see in the first place? Luckily, with Garth DavisLion you never notice the existence of the cast, as you’re too busy following the incredible journey of Saroo Brierley (played by incredible Sunny Pawar), something you won’t find it possible to watch without tears.

It’s Khandwa, India. Saroo and his elder brother Guddu are a great help for their mother in collecting rocks. The five-year-old boy is so enthusiastic in being so helpful and useful that he insists to be taken to the train station by his brother to find a job. Guddu, of course, did not want to disappoint Saroo and agrees to take him to the station. By the time when they arrive, Saroo, understandably, falls asleep. Guddu asks him to stay on the bench and rest until he comes back. So Saroo does. But when he wakes up, he finds himself completely alone…

Getting into the first train, Saroo once again allows himself to be lost in the dreams. Few hours later, 1200KM away from Khandwa, the boy is in big Calcutta where he has to spend another three months in unforgivable streets until he’s sent to an orphanage to spend another year. When all hope’s lost, the help comes in the face of an Australian couple, Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John Brierley (David Wenham) that live in the island of Tasmania. Sue and her husband are extremely happy to have Saroo in their family, as with his appearance he manages to fulfill their dreams.

Credit: © Long Way Home Productions 2015

Looking much better and healthier, Saroo gets another adopted brother, whose traumatic past won’t go anywhere, even when we find them twenty years later, when Saroo is a grown up man. Seemingly unable to fully adjust to the Australian culture, Saroo tells his girlfriend that he hears his brother calling him and that he must find his real family. This is when the second part of the film turns into a suspenseful thriller when Saroo opens up Google Earth to locate the location of the place he always remembered as his true home.

Thoughtfully written screenplay by Luke Davis and directed by Garth Davis, Lion offers an experience of an incredible journey with Saroo (Dev Patel) from the start to the end. The true magic of the film is when, I must say, you never feel the existence of the actors, but only the characters they portray. Unbelievably touching score, cinematography, directing and performance will make you feel everything emotionally with tears coming down. Fortunately, there is nothing to worry about, as I am sure you won’t be the only one who will sob the entire film.

Credit: © Long Way Home Productions 2015

In conclusion, Lion is a beautifully shot and truly exceptional film by all means. It’s not an ordinary film based on a true story, and that will be noticed right from the beginning. Nicole Kidman’s long monologue when she provides an explanation of the reason why she and her husband decide to adopt him is one of the most incredibly moving scenes I’ve seen in a while. Dev Patel’s performance is truly outstanding, as he captures all of Saroo’s inner pain and inability to accept the new and privileged life while his real family is out there still desperately in search for him.

Yet, Lion is the film that will take your breath away, while the emotional reunion scene will most likely make you cry non-stop. Yes, that scene, of course will touch your heart as deeply as you can imagine, but the closing credit is what, most likely, will make you to reply in your head the entire film all over again, but for a whole different reason.


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