TIFF 2016: Our Review of ‘Lion’

TIFF 2016: Our Review of ‘Lion’

Lion has compelling aspects of heartbreak loss and neglect but devolves into a Hallmark movie of the week that gets dragged down by clichéd storytelling.

While helping his older brother look for work; a young boy gets flung to the other side of the country in a decommissioned train to one of the most crowded cities of the world in Calcutta.   He finds his way to an orphanage where he ultimately gets adopted by a loving family in Australia.  However, years later, he becomes consumed with the haunting visions of his former life that never left him all these years.

Director Garth Davis truly does start out with a brilliant degree of electricity but it ultimately fizzles out as a weak script and a leading performance from Dev Patel which goes a little too overboard and never effectively sells the emotional distress of this character.

Davis makes the world around young Saroo seem so massive and confusing that you can’t help but be scared and root for this young kid.  His journey is sold so well that when he finally finds the orphanage we’ve forgotten that he can’t find his home, and we are just overjoyed that he’s finally out of danger.

However this is where the downturn in the storytelling happens and we see Saroo (now played by Dev Patel) getting ready to go to university, but he can’t shake not knowing what happened and the guilt of the aftermath that his disappearance must have caused.  Patel certainly tries his best but so much of his performance was just a little too far out of his wheel house.

At the end of the day, Lion is a flimsy masquerade that shows some flashes of genuine promise but can’t helping settling in to a safe and boring affair.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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