Lion – Review
Are you someone who misses getting a good cry in at the end of an episode of Parenthood each week? This is Us not getting your tear ducts working properly anymore? You need to watch Lion. If you saw Lion and didn’t have a hard time reading the credits through your welled-up eyes, then please remember to plug yourself into your USB port and recharge during the remainder of this review, you robot.
This review contains spoilers. If you didn’t have Lion’s plot spoiled for you by Google’s Oscar night commercial, please stop reading and come back after you’ve seen the film. Also, Google, I’m still a bit annoyed about that commercial spoiling the movie for me.
Every year before the Oscars, I have a mad dash to see as many Best Picture nominees as I can before the ceremony. This year, I only managed to see four of the eight movies nominated for Best Picture before the Oscars ceremony aired. Usually what happens each year is I’m hyper-invested in seeing these movies pre-Oscars, and unless I missed the Best Picture winner, they fade from my mind just as quickly so that I can focus on more fun fare, like say, Lego Batman. Lion is a movie that would usually fall off my radar after the Oscars. It didn’t take home any awards and was completely overlooked despite all its nominations on a night that focused mainly on La La Land vs. Moonlight.
Ignoring Lion would be a mistake. It is a great movie. I found it to be genuinely enjoyable from beginning to end. I usually do not get on board with children being nominated for Oscars, but I truly believe that Sunny Pawar deserved a Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor nomination. His pre-Tasmania scenes were not in English and not subtitled, and I had no issue understanding what was going on in the movie. This young actor emoted like a professional with decades of experience. I also think Dev Patel was unjustly snubbed for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Having seen both Moonlight and Lion, I definitely would given the award to Patel over Mahershala Ali. I thought Mahershala was good in Moonlight, but Dev had tears streaming down my face by the end of Lion.
Maybe it’s because I’m now a father, or maybe it’s because my brother is my best friend, but I was immediately drawn in by Lion’s story. I was glued to the screen the entire time and found it to be the most riveting and suspenseful of the five Best Picture nominees I’ve seen so far (the others being La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival and Manchester By The Sea). What happened to Saroo was one of my biggest fears as a child, finding myself lost in a strange place with no way of finding my family. As I was watching Lion, I found myself wanting to see the movie from Guddu’s point of view, because as tragic as what happened to Saroo was, I couldn’t even begin to fathom what his brother must have been going through when he returned to the train station to find his brother gone. How would he tell his mother? How long would he search? How would he search? And then we find out that on the same night that Saroo disappeared, Guddu died while searching for him, hit by one of the trains in the station. Cue waterworks from Billy’s eyes. What a tragedy for their mother! To lose both sons in one night, and not have closure for one of them for decades. The ending was so bittersweet and emotional. I was being pulled in different directions. On the one hand, Saroo was given a qualitatively better life with the Brierlys, but on the other hand, he had to sacrifice seeing his mother for decades and inadvertently caused the death of his brother. And that scene during the credits, with the real Saroo and his adoptive mom visiting his birth mother in India. Oh Gawd, I need another box of Kleenex!
Lion is part Citizen Kane and part A Beautiful Mind. I can’t recommend it enough. Lion might be the best movie of 2016 in this reviewer’s opinion.