Making his feature film directorial debut, Australian filmmaker Garth Davis has unexpectedly created this year’s most heartwarming and touching movie experience. “Lion” is a fact-based movie that recounts the true story of Saroo Brierley and his 2014 non-fiction novel A Long Way Home, back when Saroo gets lost at a train station in his home country of India at the age of 5.
“Lion” packs a powerful punch. The exceptionally talented and charismatic Dev Patel (2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire”) delivers another on-screen gem, this time as Saroo after he’s been adopted by an Australian family. But it’s the younger version of Saroo, portrayed by movie newcomer Sunny Pawar, that completely outshines everyone else in this tense, nail-biter.
Pawar’s 5-year old Saroo character awakes on a moving train and is unable to place his home’s location in the vast country. The perilous challenges he faces on the streets of India is perfectly combined with the enormous burden Saroo places upon himself for getting lost. The terrible guilt and a mix of emotions felt by the boy is also palpable to the audience.
Over 80,000 children disappear each year in India, culminating in 11 million kids living on the streets. “Lion” sharply keeps viewers guessing on how young Saroo survives this ordeal and how his adult future transpires as a result. Nicole Kidman’s performance as the Australian mother who adopts Saroo is gaining positive reviews, but it’s really Rooney Mara’s role as his supportive girlfriend that grounds this film. Both, along with spot-on casting throughout, combine to give “Lion” an above-average ensemble.
The most emotional film of 2016, “Lion” is a movie not to be missed! “Lion” dramatically rises from an impressive “A” grade film into one of 2016’s top movies with a poignant final act. This film quietly enters the Academy Award “Best Picture” race, joining “Hell or High Water” and “La La Land” with its strong storytelling and convincing characters. You can be assured that “Lion” won’t get lost on the minds of film critics scribbling out their list of Top 10 Movies from 2016.
“Lion” is showing now in select cities throughout the U.S. It opens nationwide in theaters on January 19th.
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