I am a firm believer in knowing as little about a movie as possible before going in (especially if it’s a good movie). Of course, this can sometimes have it’s downsides (like bringing your dad to see Moonlight), but for the most part, I try to avoid trailers as much as I can so that the movie has a better chance of surprising me. I can’t tell you how hard I’ve been trying to avoid any of Logan’s other trailers besides the first one.
Now thanks to this movie not getting very much attention, I was able to see Lion without seeing ANY theatrical trailers. All I knew about it was that it was about some Indian and that Nicole Kidman was in it, and that was it, thankfully. So I will try to describe my feelings toward Lion without spoiling anything.
Lion is a movie that follows the life of one male Indian, from childhood to a young adulthood. The movie is essentially split into two different parts, both of them are extremely well executed in regards to where they want to take the story.
Dev Patel does a great job in his role, and his deep inner conflict he has about his situation really sold me. His conflict was complimented with the tone and the feel of the movie the entire time.
The first half of Lion does an absolutely amazing job of making you feel the protagonist’s sense of lostness. The main character is in an unknown place with the inability to speak to almost everyone, and the absolute hopelessness and horror was extremely well-felt.
The second half deals with his feelings about identity and family, and the depths that he goes into because of his lostness strikes quite the emotional chord.
Good Lord though, were some of the scenes in this movie absolutely frightening. The reason that this movie worked so well in giving you this sense of fear is because it successfully drops you into a world you know nothing about (unless you’ve been to the places in this film), and it immediately makes you empathize with our protagonist. If anything, this is a great example of how storytelling can expand on the good performances of a movie.
The rest of the cast does a really great job in their respective roles. Nicole Kidman is probably the best of all the performers, but there really wasn’t an actor that floored me with their performance. Were Patel’s and Kidman’s performances good enough to be nominated for Best Supporting Characters? Sure, but I wouldn’t make a final judgement until I saw the rest of the nominated films.
One thing that I find difficult about movies that are partly (or even completely) in a different language and culture is that I have a harder time truly measuring the performance quality. Because this entire movie is based outside of North America, I can’t say for certain whether or not certain actors did a good job. However, none of them were obnoxious or distracting in my opinion, so I’m going to say that their performances were fine.
The soundtrack, while it does not necessarily stand out, fit the movie extremely well and really emphasized certain emotional scenes.
The complaints that I have for the movie are minor. The beginning is just a bunch of overview shots of the landscape of where this movie takes place, and then it ends with “Based On a True Story”, as if neither of these things have ever been done a million times in a million different film. However, I’m willing to argue that the overview shots were thematic to the story, but that’s as far as I’m willing to talk about it.
There were one or two scenes that I thought were not logically sound. There was a point where I was wondering how a certain character managed to escape something.
Aside from that though, Lion is a very immersive movie that successfully draws out some powerful emotions, and it actually has a really cool reason for the title. Of all of the 2016 movies I wasn’t actually able to see in 2016, this is the first one that had a real shot at making it into my top 10. Go see this one before the Oscars are over and it leaves the theatre.