Film Review: Lion (Australia/USA/UK, 2016) is a beautiful, emotional journey

Based on the true story of Saroo Brierley and his book A Long Way Home, this week’s anticipated release Lion takes its audience on the beautiful, emotional journey of Saroo; lost in India as a young child, raised in Tasmania, forever desperate to find his way back home.

Starring Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) as the older Saroo and adorable newcomer Sunny Pawar as his younger self, the film runs chronologically from the time Saroo gets lost, to the time he finds his way back home some two decades later. Nicole Kidman and David Wenham play his adopted parents, Sue and John Brierley, both delivering strong performances as two loving parents who wanted nothing more in their lives than to give Saroo and his adopted brother Mantosh a home, and a chance at a good life.

Elsewhere in the supporting cast is Rooney Mara, who plays Lucy, Saroo’s American-living-in-Melbourne girlfriend. She also delivers a strong performance, and the film captures the connection between her and Saroo well, but ultimately this is a film which rests on the shoulders of its lead character. Both actors do brilliantly in their time on screen to give Saroo a life you empathise with. Patel also does a pretty decent Australian accent if I do say so myself.

The emotive score by Hauschka and Dustin O’Halloran is a highlight of the film – adding intensity to Saroo’s more harrowing ordeals when he’s essentially an orphan, living alone on the streets of Calcutta, and enhancing the emotion of the scenes that will serve as a tear-jerker for many. Meanwhile, Greig Fraser‘s soaring cinematography across the skies and plains of Australia and India adds some beauty to the screen, while never shying away from the realities of Saroo’s ordeal.

It’s fair to say that there’s nothing quite groundbreaking about Lion. Thematically, it’s ultimately quite a simple film – boy gets lost, embarks on a harrowing quest to survive, then uses again technology to find home again. But it’s simplicity is its charm, as it’s a story well told by Aussie screenwriter Luke Davies and delivered with skill by director Garth Davis.

Shot beautifully, scored with precision and buoyed by strong performances, Lion is a must see film.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Lion is in cinemas today.

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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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