HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:79
I come from a family with adopted brothers, much like the hero of “Lion” does, so the subject matter is one that I have a close personal reaction to. I had heard of Saroo Brierley’s book “A Long Way Home” some time ago but never did get around to reading it (my book list is somewhere around 200+ right now so anything new on the table usually gets put at the bottom unless it’s something I’ve been told I NEED to read), but with 6 academy award nomination I told myself that the movie was definitely on the table. After watching the film I can understand why it got snubbed at the Awards ceremony as each of the winners truly deserved to be there, and “Lion” was less of an Oscar bait film that many contenders. That’s not to say that it’s any less worthy of the nominations or was a bad film, far from it in fact. Of the academy award nominees “Lion” was near the top of the heap along with “Hacksaw Ridge” and “La La Land”. However, “Lion” is more simple and organic than the other films which doesn’t always lend itself for gushing praise from the Academy (which isn’t a bad thing I might add).
The story itself is very simple. Extremely simple in reality. Saroo is a young peasant boy somewhere in India who gets accidentally trapped in an abandoned train car and transported hundreds of miles away. When he’s pulled off of the train and interviewed by the locals in Calcutta all he can say is the name of his town (that no one has ever heard of) and the world “Mum” in Hindi. A search goes on for the abandoned boy, but in a country the size of India with many many small outlying villages it’s near impossible. Tens of thousands of people go missing in India every year and very few are ever reunited with their parents. After surviving in an Indian orphanage for a short time Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple who wants children of their own. His mother Sue (Nicole Kidman) and father John (David Wenham) also adopt another young Indian orphan named Mantosh (Divian Lawa) and raise the two children as their own across the ocean.
20 years later Saroo (Dev Patel) is heading out to learn about Hotel management, but he still has this longing in his heart to find his birth mother and brother, Gaddu. Even though he finds love with his instructor Lucy (Rooney Mara) his constant need for finding his past is overwhelming his psyche. With the help of a few friends and the support of Lucy, Saroo starts to slowly gather clues, put together puzzle pieces and narrow down the search field in an effort to see his relatives are still alive. A journey that will consume him and lift him up to a place that he never thought possible.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95201[/img]“Lion” is a fantastic story that sets out on a singular mission and delivers that with spades. I mentioned earlier that it was a very simplistic story, and I mean that with all positivity. You know from the beginning the end goal of Saroo, and you know the basic ending of the movie, but watching it unfold and relating to the characters is the real joy of the movie. For a 2 hour film with a slow paced plot, it never once had me looking at the clock wondering how much time it had left. Minutes turned into hours and I was still enthralled with the film just waiting on the edge of my seat for the foregone meeting in his home town. It’s a testament to the actors and the writers (one of which was actually the real life Saroo) that “Lion” was this engaging and uplifting despite knowing the basic premise of the movie from the beginning.
Dev Patel has always been an actor that I’ve kept close watch on ever since I saw him in “Life of Pi” several years ago (which is another fantastic movie by the way). He gives so much emotion in his films and has only matured into a better actor with age. His singular focus on finding his parents is so incredibly heartbreaking but relatable at the same time. The same can be said for Nicole Kidman who turns in one of her best performances in years playing the real life Sue Brierley. There is a conversation between her and Saroo where he apologizes for kind of ruining her life with his baggage that is one of the single best scenes in the whole movie. Only to be replaced by the real life camera footage of the real characters when they met up in India back in 2012 (I was bawling like a little child at that point).
Rated PG-13 for thematic material and some sensuality.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95209[/img]The only negative thing to say about the whole package (besides the slim extras) is the image quality for ‘Lion”. I did some research and asked around to several other people who saw it in the theater and I really can’t blame Lionsgate for this one. Supposedly the film looks VERY much like the theatrical display. Besides some intermittent banding that shows up in the first 15 minutes of the film (and near the end) the AVC encode by Lionsgate is more than capable of rendering the digital shoot well. The thing is the movie is given a slightly green filter that displays lots of earthy tones and detail can get a bit murky here and there. Most of the time (especially in brightly lit scenes) detail is quite good, but darker shots gain some digital noise and a washed out look to the black levels. It’s a very solid looking encode, but one that doesn’t excel due to the earthy and flat looking digital shooting style.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95217[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is nearly impeccable though. Crisp, clean and clear at all times (besides Nicole Kidman’s thick Ozzie accent at times) the dialog is well placed in the center channel and the surrounds get more than a good workout with plenty of well placed effects. Listen to the crowd and train station at the beginning of the film and hear the chaos as it envelopes the sound stage. Or the soft and subtle flow of the music as it permeates the listening position with multi directional tones. LFE is powerful and deep when called upon (such as the train or the beating of drums), but also soft and demure when not needed. It’s not a wild action track, but the nuances and sonic placement of sounds in the track makes for an amazing listening experience.
• Deleted Scenes
• Behind the Scenes Gallery
• "Never Give Up" Official Lyric Video performed by Sia
Out of the Academy award nominated films for the year “Lion” is easily in my top 5 movies of the year. It’s simple, sweet, but so organically relatable that it intertwines and wraps itself around you heart so well that by the end you just don’t want it to stop. Patel and Kidman give standout performances and I have to say that while it’s not as obvious in the way it plays with your heart like most Oscar films, the natural emotion and joy that is seen throughout makes for some of the most heartfelt reactions I’ve had to a film this year. Audio is fantastic and while the video isn’t the greatest (source related not encode related) the movie is well worth checking out. Highly Recommended.
Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman
Directed by: Garth Davis
Written by: Luke Davies (Screenplay), Saroo Brierley (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 119 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 11th 2017
Buy Lion On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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