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Film Review: ‘Lion’ Can’t Quite Tame Audience’s Hearts

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – “Lion” is the kind of inspirational-triumph-over-insurmountable-odds and adversity stories that’s bound to appeal to grandmothers and Academy voters, and it does offer plenty of material to tug at the heartstrings. But it’s a movie that only gets the job half done, and unfortunately loses its way once Nicole Kidman comes into the picture.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

The film is based on the true story of a young boy in India named Saroo (played as a boy by Sunny Pawar). We meet him on the streets with his brother scrounging scraps and stealing coal to buy enough food to support their family. Their mother works as a laborer moving rocks, but can’t read or write – she gives her children love, but can’t give much more. Desperate to find any work to feed their family, Saroo tags along when his older brother tries to find some night labor.

Saroo gets sleepy while waiting for his brother Rawa (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), and he wanders into a neighboring train that has been decommissioned and dozes off. He wakes up and finds himself stuck on a train travelling for two days. When he finally gets off the train, he has no idea where he is and he’s in a part of India that speaks an entirely different language. These scenes involving the little boy lost and looking for someone, anyone, to help him find his way back to his home are the movie’s most powerful. After some scrapes with nefarious characters, and living on the streets, he eventually winds up in an orphanage.

From there he’s adopted by an Australian couple played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham. Kidman can still pull off an icy glare of disapproval, but can’t really emote much else besides a state of perpetual controlled annoyance as she tries to teach the young boy how to act in this new society. The couple wants to be the white knights for disadvantaged children, and Saroo initially takes to his new homeland quite well. This is compared to his newly adopted brother Mantosh (Divian Ladwa), who bears more emotional scars from his own childhood.

”Lion” opened everywhere on December 25th. Featuring Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Divian Ladwa. Screenplay adapted by Luke Davies, from a memoir by Saroo Brierley. Directed by Garth Davis. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Spike Walter’s full review of “Lion”

Lion1
Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel) Searches for His Roots in ‘Lion’
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

StarContinue reading for Spike Walter’s full review of “Lion”

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