118 minutes (PG)
Biopics are pretty commonplace in Hollywood and the annual start-of-the-year awards season, but few are likely to match Lion for sheer heart and emotional resonance.
A touching, measured, drama full of memorable performances, the film is an acting tour de force for all those involved, particularly Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.
Lion tells the story of Saroo, a five-year-old boy who falls asleep on a train and ends up thousands of miles away on the other side of India.
He ends up being adopted by an Australian couple (Kidman and David Wenham) but it’s only years later when Saroo grows up that our protagonist decides to track down his family in India and the film’s emotional story begins.
The story itself is a thrilling journey, made all the more emotional by the fact that it really happened, which imbues events on the screen with a sense of focus and power.
Patel is at his understated best, conveying the pain and desperation of Lion’s protagonist, a man searching for some sense of identity. It’s arguably his best film and performance since Slumdog Millionaire and further evidence of his development as a major Hollywood star.
Rooney Mara also shines as Saroo’s girlfriend but it’s Nicole Kidman who really impresses in a film that marks a return to form for the Oscar-winner, even if the make-up apartment appear to have gone a little overboard with some of the make-up designed to age her character.
Sunny Pawar, the eight-year-old boy who plays young Saroo, also fares well as essentially the main protagonist of Lion, ably carrying the film on his shoulders for much of the opening third.
Based on real events, the movie rarely pulls its punches either, creating a story and a set of characters that the viewer cares about.
Tipped for Oscar glory already, Lion looks to have all the markings of a true-life award winner – and it’s not without merit, either.