I accept that many people think this film is brilliant and deserved to win best picture at the oscars. It was recommended to me by a friend although I didn’t particularly fancy it. So I will admit that I’m not the best person to review it and that my opinion here is just that. However, I’m not a big fan of this film.
I’m not really a fan of true stories sexed up by the film industry just to play on emotional heart strings. Whilst cinema can bring worthy untold stories into general public knowledge just as Hidden Figures highlights a little known moment in black history and aerospace history, I’m not convinced the story of Lion is as sensational as everyone suggests. There is a brief caption at the end of the film detailing how many children sleep rough in India but I don’t see the film raising much profile for lost and homeless children (hopefully some of the $113 million taken at the box office will go to the cause) because the focus of the story seems to be how one child got lost on a train, adopted in Australia and miraculously found his home two decades later. That’s the story that everyone is shocked by, not that there are millions of Indian children living on the streets and millions living and working in poverty.
For me this story is the perfect three minute Google Earth ad (it actually was an ad for Google maps) but it isn’t a feature length film, which is why the film needs to be split into two stories. The better half of the film, the section retelling Saroo’s childhood experiences and his days living alone on the streets, has been rewritten for cinema and extended to transform an opening chapter into an opening half. The second half has Dev Patel moping about, being a moody student, not doing anything particularly interesting, until one day he happens to hit a breakthrough on Google Earth. There is a little bit of sentimentality about his adopted mother and most people would be moved by the reunion at the end of the film but I don’t really see the appeal in making an audience cry if there’s no deeper meaning or thought-provoking power.
If you haven’t seen this film and think I’ve just given you a spoiler, trust me I haven’t. It would be difficult to give spoilers for this film because there isn’t really a plot beyond the concept of the film. If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the film. Apart from some good acting from the young protagonist in the first half, there isn’t much else going for this film unless you like a weepy, slow-moving drama. Clearly, I don’t.