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“Lion” draws attention to global ignored issues

Movie+poster+obtained+from+IMDb+through+fair+use+from+The+Weinstein+Company.
Movie poster obtained from IMDb through fair use from The Weinstein Company.

Movie poster obtained from IMDb through fair use from The Weinstein Company.

Movie poster obtained from IMDb through fair use from The Weinstein Company.

Michael Landolfi

“Lion” is a poignant film from first-time director Garth Davis. Starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and the eight-year-old Sunny Pawar, the movie takes place in India and Australia, telling the true story of a young boy who was separated from his family, until an Australian couple adopts him. Saroo grows up with the couple and attends college in Australia. Here, he learns from some of his friends of Google Earth and begins to wonder if he could ever find his original home again.

Firstly, the film constantly keeps its viewers on their toes, never spending too much time on one event. Smart pacing does this incredible true story justice, and every twist and turn feels fresh. The characters, who are treated as what they are: real people. They’re all fleshed out very well, and none of the main cast seems like a cardboard cutout that’s only there to push the story along for the main character.

Most of the time, the dialogue is solid, but it has its fair share of cliche lines. The first half has little to no dialogue, as do some great scenes in the third act – which I dare not spoil here.

The actors who play Saroo, Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar, do exceptional jobs, particularly – and surprisingly – the eight-year-old. Likewise, Nicole Kidman is also very convincing as his adopted mother. All of the other actors do decent jobs, except for Rooney Mara, whose performance as Lucy, Saroo’s girlfriend, is usually either too boring or too overdramatic.

The film itself has beautiful tracking shots and fantastic dramatic framing; cinematographer Greig Fraser deserves a lot of credit for the film’s vivid colors. I never knew a film could make dirt look so pretty. The locations in India and Australia were great choices, and they really pay off in the final product.

Finally, the film draws attention to the numerous lost children in India, who are not only ignored but also kidnapped, neglected or otherwise mistreated. The film touches on this mostly in the third act and gets its ideas across realistically and without reliance on shock value.

With solid acting, a decent script, great pacing and enchanting cinematography, “Lion” tells a fascinating story while drawing attention to an oft ignored issue of runaway, kidnapped or otherwise lost Indian children. I’d definitely recommend it, not just for people interested in this type of story, but anyone willing to get very emotionally invested in such a dramatic and widespread issue.

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“Lion” draws attention to global ignored issues