Buy Lion on Amazon Video // Buy the book A Long Way Home
Written by: Saroo Brierley (adapted from the book "A Long Way Home" by), Luke Davies (screenplay)
Directed by: Garth Davis
Starring: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
A five-year-old Indian boy survives on the streets of Calcutta after getting lost thousands of miles from home. He's adopted by a couple in Australia, and twenty five years later sets out to find his lost family.
Dev Patel does a great job with an intriguing story, but the movie overall is underwhelming. I appreciate that it defies convention by not being manipulative, but that also creates a disconnect. The final few scenes are solid, but the rest of the movie relies to heavily on speculation.
Saroo is left at the train station and ends up miles away lost and alone. Twenty five years later he uses Google maps to find his hometown.
I suppose this is Saroo's story, but I would have expected scenes with his family and how distraught they are. His brother is bound to feel guilty for leaving him. While that can be emotionally manipulative, the lack of these scenes made me wonder if his mother did miss him. Maybe he wondered the same thing, but the snapshot of his life just felt too narrow. It's fine to let Saroo wonder, but I didn't need to be in his shoes, only getting one side of the story. That's what it feels like, part of the story is missing.
A lot of the story is conveyed without exposition. I got the feeling Saroo didn't want to tell his adoptive parents that he was looking for his hometown because he didn't want them to feel like they weren't enough. A lot of the story beats are inferred rather than expressed. His life is consumed by the search. He has to confront the fears and regrets of his life.
This relays the tale in a strange way because it doesn't focus on the typical tropes of the genre. This doesn't go for the easy story and while that often works, sometimes it doesn't. This needs a few scenes were Saroo clearly conveys his thoughts and pending actions.
The final few scenes are a great culmination, and just these scenes alone almost make this movie worth watching.