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Lion (Garth Davis, 2015) wr. Luke Davies from Saroo Brierley autobiography A Long Way Home, prod. Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Angie Fielder; Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman; Indian son reunited with birth mother; nominated for Best Film 2017 Oscars

I thought this was, like Australia (Baz Luhrmann, 2008), more like three films than one. The first one is a doco-like representation of life in an Indian slum; the second is an Australian melodrama with acting not good enough for a soap; and the third is a joyful tear-jerker about the reunion of a mother and son.

There's now no doubt that Dev Patel is a superior actor. Nicole Kidman may have been doing what she was directed to do, but it's not much. As for David Wenham, this is yet another in a long series of roles done on automatic pilot. HAL in 2001 gives a better performance, and he's not even human.

Ari Mattes:
Lion is a well-made film starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and David Wenham. An Australian production written by Luke Davies (Candy) and adapted from Saroo Brierly’s memoir A Long Way Home (2013), it follows the remarkable true story of an Indian boy who, lost in Calcutta, is adopted by an Australian couple and grows up in Tasmania. 25 years later, he uses Google Earth to locate his home village and is reunited with his birth mother. ...
Unfortunately, like most commercial films, Lion doesn't say anything particularly meaningful about the world. In film terms, this is called burbanking: reducing the political problems that form its contextual backdrop to matters of individual psychology and morality. ...
A film that is underpinned by the contrast between India's urban and rural poverty and Australia's affluence cannot help but be about the processes of capitalist modernity and urbanisation that underpin contemporary consumer culture. Yet Lion eschews any genuine political engagement. ...
It is, in fact, rather hypocritical in its depiction of poverty as the result of some kind of amorphous 'evil' and not as the necessary product of capitalist development. There is, moreover, something profoundly Dickensian in its explicit celebration of bourgeois sympathy for the poor – and its solution: physical appropriation of the poor by the rich.
Ari Mattes, 'Lion is a well-made melodrama with a rather disturbing message', The Conversation.

Garry Gillard | New: 9 January, 2017 | Now: 21 August, 2022