Originally an autobiography entitled ‘A Long Way Home’, ‘Lion’ has been adapted for the big screen by writer Luke Davies & first time director Garth Davis. This film tells the story of Saroo Brierley, who became separated from his family at a young age, and his struggle to reunite himself with them. A steady amount of awards buzz has been directed towards this movie since its festival release and now with its general release audiences can enjoy it too.
The film stars Dev Patel in the leading role, or supporting if you go by what categories he has been nominated in. Patel shot to fame in Danny Boyle’s 2008 best picture ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and whilst not his first time returning to this location in a film project there are certainly some narrative similarites between the two movies. As I have already mentioned Patel has been nominated for several awards for his performance here and there is no denying that he plays his role very well. From previous roles and his on screen charisma Patel is a very likeable performer and he tackles the more intense scenes well whilst also pulling off the more lighthearted content. I don’t see him winning any awards here but that doesn’t take anything away from his good work. Sharing in the nominations is co-star Nicole Kidman who plays Patel’s characters adoptive mother. This is one of Kidman’s more dramatic roles in recent years and she is wonderful, she has some great dialogue to work with and she creates a lot of emotion through her performance. Rooney Mara also stars in the movie as Patel’s characters love interest. The pair have a good chemistry which I wouldn’t necessarily have expected, although I have to admit I’m not sure that the film needed this relationship. The other notable performance comes from youngster Sunny Pawar who plays a younger version of Patel’s character. He has a considerable chunk of screen time and it is him who initially gets the audience to invest in the character.
The narrative itself is emotionally charged, this is no doubt due to the true nature of the story but also a lot of credit has to go to those performances. As well as this the film is written skillfully, knowing when to take it’s time and include audiences and knowing when to skim over certain sections and leave them to fill in the blanks. I enjoyed the initial section in India, it’s one of the first times I have seen this location filmed in a more plain way. Usually films with this setting are vibrant and full of colour but here there are more neutral, greys, blacks and whites used throughout. I thought this was appropriate due to the story being true and also considering the at times dark plot. The film however also features some really uplifting and special moments. One scene in particular, showcasing the best of Kidman’s performance, offers an insight into adoption and I found this moment especially touching. It was the inclusion of a range of points of view and perspectives that gave this film its strength. Nothing is ever drawn out too much and the right amount of time is spent in both the sadder sections and the more joyful ones. Like most films based on true stories these days there is some real life footage of the people that the cast portray here and this was a fitting end to a powerhouse of a movie.
‘Lion’ might just be my favourite film of awards season so far, the retelling of amazing true stories always helps but these stories don’t translate to the screen successfully without the careful preparation and execution of many professionals. With committed performances, a well written & paced narrative and several other elements ‘Lion’ tells this story in a most entertaining and engaging way deservedly proving why it has been receiving such acclaim.
Question: What is your favourite performance given by Dev Patel?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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