★★★★★ – “Emotional, gritty and real. Lion is a must-see.”

Lion is directed by Garth Davis, starring; Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and introducing Sunny Pawar.

A five-year old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometres from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

It’s rare in film to encounter a first act so thoroughly emotional, gritty and real. In Lion, director Garth Davis introduces us to Sunny Pawar, who at only eight-years old gives one of the most genuine, touching performances I’ve seen from any young actor. The first 50 minutes are mostly silent, similar to the opening act of Pixar’s WALL•E, in which very little dialogue is used. During this time, Pawar is acting through raw expression as he stumbles around the unforgiving streets of Calcutta, laying down a vital background before cutting to a grown Saroo, 25 years on.

The cinematography in this film is simply stunning, capturing India and Australia with a smart eye for composition, complete with a grade that only slightly brushes the screen with a finishing gloss. Each and every shot is dark in tone, especially in the first act, and documents the poverty situation without holding back, making the picture feel that bit more realistic.

This is a work based on an incredible true story, and it’s definitely one of the most heartfelt tales to ever hit the big screen. During the final act, though inevitable, the execution is thorough enough to make us shed a few tears. The real success here is the telling of Saroo’s unexpected journey, miles from home. Once Dev Patel’s grown Saroo appears, the impact gets lost somewhere in the background, though in the final act it’s rekindled with spirit and we are pulled through many emotions until the picture fades to black. 

Original music by Dustin O’Halloran & Volker Bertelmann is warm in colour, with a ravishing piano lead that drives the emotional bind between score and imagery. Lush string arrangements are present, but only serve as an underlying texture for the prominent use of piano. The music also stands on its own as a delightful listening experience.

This is a must-see. Whether it’s at the cinema or during its home release, make it your priority to see this lovely film.

Verdict; Garth Davis’ Lion is a work of art, featuring a powerful first act that captures fear, wonder and sadness all encased inside one wonderfully raw performance from Sunny Pawar.

Lion – ★★★★★ (10/10)


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