It seemed that the difficult childhood of a little Indian boy called Saroo had a happy ending. Adopted by a caring couple from Australia he had everything a child could wish for - a loving family, a proper education and incredible opportunities. But the past still haunts him. The only way to carry on is to find his real family. Will it help to reunite his present self with his old past? Or will it divide him?
Let's get it out of the way now - the main character of LION is a spoilt little brat. This naked truth is carefully masked by many tear jerking moments. Apparently bad things in one's childhood can excuse anything you put others through.
When his past calls out to him, Saroo quits his job, dumps his girlfriend, abuses his brother and abandons his adoptive parents. Then he is sulking in his million dollar ocean view home and is searching for his mommy on his thousand dollar laptop. How terrible for him!
If you thought that LION will take you on exciting journey through India while Saroo is looking for his family - you are wrong! When the lengthy prologue is out of the way we barely leave Australia, getting endless flashbacks as we follow Saroo wandering the picturesque locations of Tasmania, until the search comes to a sudden and rather disappointing resolution. In one word - anticlimax.
On the bright side, the first thirty minutes or so, which tells Saroo's origin story, are rather entertaining. There's no denying that LION is superbly acted, Dev Patel delivers a perfect Australian accent and there's no doubt he perfectly embodies the emotions and the conflict of his character. A fabulous performance to the bone.
Nicole Kidman showcases her acting skills in the limited screen time she has, but Rooney Mara (my favourite) finds herself at a loss in a role that has given her nothing to work with. She is a real waste and I cannot understand why she accepted the role. Any new comer would have been be ok for that part.
It is a real art to mask the storytelling gaps with such exquisite visuals. LION's cinematographer Greig Fraser (his latest achievement being ROGUE ONE: STAR WARS STORY), does it in spectacular fashion.
Aussie director Garth Davis relies too much on the spectacle (so does Michael Bay), but he manages to get the best possible emotions out of his near perfect cast. I will be looking forward to what he does next.
LION is a competently shot and well acted movie, but struggles with the pacing. It is also as predictable as your next ABC episode of Australian Story. You have seen it a thousand times before. But if you perceived it as something new, LION has accomplished its task.