Lion (aka A Long Way Home) review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Lion is a well-acted, though-provoking, hipster-free tearjerker drama that stays with you long after you’ve watched this film for the first time. Now let’s be blunt: Lion features an impressive cinematography, well thought-out script, and acting like you’ve never seen before from a half-Hindi feature that somehow found its way onto Uncle Sam’s big screen. And despite telling a story that spans over the course of twenty-five years, Lion never, ever feels like it overstays its welcome – an impressive feat to say the least (scorning at you The Revenant!). And where others have failed, Lion succeeds in building an ever-lasting legacy that won’t be forgotten (at least for those who watched the film) as opposed to (mandatory comparison incoming) another well-known feature called Slumdog Millionaire. Now let’s see how it went down.
The film starts with Saroo (wonderfully played by Sunny Pawar), who gets lost after he and his brother leave their village in order to do a job of some sorts. Unfortunately, young Saroo cannot find his way back and gets lost in the crowded streets of India. From here thereon, the film follows Saroo in his own personal Odyssey as he tries to trace his roots and find his real identity in a world that’s long forgotten of what means to be human. Which leads us to the main anchor of the film: its overarching themes.
And there are many. The theme of identity in a foreign land; the theme of poverty and survival; and of course, my personal favourite: the theme of love. Love of parents, siblings, significant others, and everyone who lends a helping hand in dire times of need. Lion gracefully handles these themes both via young Saroo and his older version as well (played by Dev Patel), whilst also leaving some room for elaborate thought. That is to say, Lion doesn’t bash your head with pseudo-intellectual garbage, but instead it subtly shows how a simple wrong turn can make all the difference in life. And everybody can become estranged, no matter how rich or poor you are or what car you’re driving: it’s just the way of life.
The supporting cast also delivers. Nicole Kidman appears in a small role, but steals every scene she’s in, as if the actress experienced a long-needed recuperation from blockbusters or other bid-budgeted messes period. In fact, the cinematography perfectly captures her emotions, which felt as real as humanly possible (and even eerie at times). David Wenham as Saroo’s father also does a solid job and knocks this one right out of the streets of India.
Finally, Lion is a slow-burning drama that will hit you as hard as an amateur boxer’s punch: meaning it’ll hurt, but it’ll also pass with you coming out the wiser full stop. If you haven’t already, go ahead and see Lion, and I’m not going to repeat this twice.