Lion :: Will Leave You With a Wet Neck…

Cineville - Lion

I'm trying to think why I didn't rush out to see Lion when it first came out. I'd seen the trailers a lot at the cinema but I just didn't fancy it. I guess I thought I knew the story already, from the trailer, and I didn't think it had anything to teach me.

Having seen it now, I'm still not sure it taught me anything, and the story was exactly as I suspected it would be, but still I really loved the film.

So it's the story of a little boy who gets lost for 25 years. He gets on a train and ends up 1,600 kilometres from home. As he's only about five years old, can't pronounce his own hometown and doesn't know his mum's name, he finds it impossible to get home and is eventually adopted and taken to Tasmania. Only as an adult does he start seriously thinking about where he came from, and only when the technology catches up with him can he start to do something about it.

So he sets about finding his home town, and you know where the film is going, just by the very fact that it was made. Nobody would make a film about a man who tried to find his home after 25 years but didn't manage it. The predictability of the story, however, doesn't detract from the tremendous emotional impact of its telling.

Much of the film's power is derived from the central performance of Sunny Pawar as young Saroo. Dev Patel is great too, don't get me wrong, but he can't bring the same vulnerability and charisma to the screen as this astonishing 5-year-old.

Cineville - Lion

I found myself completely involved in Lion from pretty much the first scene and it's only a matter of minutes before little Saroo is in peril, so the film doesn't really let go until we jump forward 20 years, then it becomes a slightly different film, but an almost equally fascinating one.

Ultimately, Lion is an astonishing, life-affirming, love-affirming story, and it has a reunion scene that for me equals the reunion scene in It's a Wonderful Life for emotion. And that's saying something.

It also put me in mind of that Roger Ebert quote that Mark Kermode mentions a lot: "The movies are like a machine that generates empathy." This movie's power comes from the astonishing amount of empathy that it generates. 

I reserve the right to take off a star if the film doesn't move me as much next time I see it. But for now it gets five for emotion. Beautiful, aching, heaving, wholly love-affirming emotion.


Cineville - Lion


The Viewing

I can't remember much about this viewing. I know I postponed a viewing of Trainspotting because I wanted to get on with a job I've got that meant I had to watch Lion as soon as possible. And I know it was the third time I'd try to see it because the first time it was sold out, and the second time I went to the wrong cinema.

And I know that I wasn't expecting to like the film as much as I did. And I love it when that happens.

Oh, and I didn't have a tissue and it felt like a genuine privilege to have tears rolling down my face, dripping off my chin and making my neck wet.

That'll do.

About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you’ll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven’t already.

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