TIFF 2016 Review: Lion
Lion is the miraculous true story of Saroo Bierley (Sunny Pawar / Dev Patel) as he takes the 25-year journey to find his way home. As a five-year-old boy, he is traveling with his older brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) to help earn money for his family. During the journey, he is separated from Guddu and ends up on a train that takes him far away from his home. He ends up in a place where he is all alone and doesn’t know the language. Through a series of heartbreaking moments, he ends up in an orphanage where is eventually adopted. He ends up moving to Australia to live with his adopted parents, John (David Wenham) and Sue Bierley (Nicole Kidman). As an adult, he is haunted by the memories of his childhood, his lost family, and his brother. He then begins the search to find his real home which he left so long ago.
The performances by the well-known actors in the film are superb, but the performance by newcomer Sunny Pawar, the young Saroo, is spectacular. The sheer powerful emotion and conviction with which he portrays, Saroo is remarkable for such a young actor. His wide-eyed childishness hides no emotion and is devastatingly raw. Dev Patel is enchanting as usual as older Saroo. You can truly feel the emotional turmoil he portrays in the film. Rooney Mara plays Lucy, Saroo’s girlfriend. It is a refreshing role for Mara where she is a much more upbeat character than in her previous roles. Nicole Kidman’s performance is top-notch. She is heartbreaking and inspirational as Sue Bierley, Saroo’s adopted mother.
Lion is spellbinding. There are moments filled to the brim with emotion and some that make you laugh. It is a miraculous and beautiful tale. The visuals of the film match the emotional depth of the story. The longshots of the scenery of the hills in India and Australia are breathtaking. These shots give an immensity and depth to the story, which only enhances the impact of the film. There are a few really great scenes with the trains that are beautifully shot.
Lion is triumphant storytelling at its finest. A wonderful true story with mesmerizing performances and beautiful visuals, making Lion the unforgettable film of 2016.