There are a lot of talented people attached to Lion. This means it’s either going to be really good or just another slice of “based on a true story” style Oscar bait.
The first half of Lion is riveting. A very young boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets separated from his brother and ends up locked inside of a train that takes him so far away from his home that when he’s finally able to escape it he finds himself among people who don’t even speak the same language as him. He attempts to get help, but since he can’t understand anyone and they can’t understand him, he soon finds himself alone and on the streets, where he narrowly avoids a variety of dangerous situations before eventually ending up in a seedy group home for kids. Yikes, right? Yes. Yikes. Eventually though Saroo gets adopted by a super nice Australian family, and this is where the film hits a wall. The man (now played by Dev Patel) can’t stop thinking about the family he lost, and so he mopes around a lot and obsessively browses Google Earth in an effort to locate his hometown. These parts are immensely boring. I know the real life Saroo did something amazing in locating his lost hometown via Google Earth, but the cinematic retelling of his search is as dull as can be. It straight up feels like seven hours of Dev Patel either crying or staring off into the distance and remembering what it was like to play with his brother and/or farm rocks with his mother. Not good.
Lion starts out like it’s going to be something incredibly moving, but it ends up hobbled by poor storytelling. If anything, wait until you can watch this one at home.
One Last Thought:
Lion made me realize that I no longer like Dev Patel. He’s been playing the same sort of wide-eyed, unknowingly overbearing character since Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and I just can’t take it anymore. Somebody get that fella a new role.