The LAMB Devours The Oscars 2017: Best Picture Nominee: Lion

by Jay Cluitt · February 1, 2017 · Featured, LAMB Devours the Oscars · 1 Comment

Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:

Rebecca Sharp from Almost Ginger is here to talk about another of this year’s Best Picture nominees, Lion:

Ah, the Lion. The King of the Jungle. The main dude. The OG. The lion boasts a mane as luscious as Elle Woods from Legally Blonde and teeth like Patrick Bateman. So, what the bloody hell has a Lion got to do with a young, adopted Australian guy trying to find his family back in the motherland of India?

If you’re not familiar with the premise, young Saroo, who is living somewhere in India, gets separated from his family miles and miles away from home. After spending time wandering about in limbo, he’s eventually placed with a Tasmanian family (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham of The Lord of the Rings fame) where they love and care for him until he grows up and becomes Dev Patel. Not literally, of course.

Next thing, he goes off to Melbourne for University and meets some ‘actual’ Indian people who re-introduce him to his culture and his former life. This is a kid who left India when he was six or eight. He remembers that he had a mother, a brother who was everything to him and even how he got a scar on his forehead. He had memories and traumatic experiences. He subsequently becomes obsessed with using Google Maps, a relatively new programme at the time, to work out where he came from and to find his family.

You would be forgiven for thinking Dev Patel is in the film a heck of a lot more than he actually is and therefore confused with his Best Supporting Actor nomination. This is all thanks to the trailer and the fact that he’s ‘Longbottomed’ in recent years. If you need the term explaining, ‘Longbottomed’ is a fairly recent term to describe those who were cute little child actors until they grew up and blossomed into rather attractive adults. This is à la Matthew Lewis who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series. Anyway, I digress…

The entire first half of Lion is set in India with Sunny Pawar portraying the young Saroo, the little cherub. Honestly, he’s adorable. I am not surprised they auditioned 2,000 actors to find this gem. You can also bet the Cinematography nomination for Greig Fraser on the fact that so much of the film was set in Bengal, India. Beautiful, visceral India. That’s Oscar-bothering stuff if I ever saw it.

Whilst I am really happy Dev Patel is back in action after falling off the radar for the past couple of years, this is only an ‘okay’ film. Don’t get me wrong, the acting couldn’t be better (though that Best Supporting Actress nom for Nicole Kidman is something of a joke, she did nothing but don an unflattering wig… Ah, the 1980s) and India is gorgeous on screen as per, but that’s about it. I haven’t a clue why the original score was nominated, or the writing for best adapted screenplay. Maybe nominees were scarce this year? It’s a fantastic true story, but told with a certain level of disconnection that I couldn’t quite shake. Yes, even despite the fact the film did make me bawl my eyes out.

The film raises an important social issue, which in itself is a good reason for the film to be nominated. Something ridiculous like 800,000 kids in India go missing each year. How awful is that? And Lion proves how easily done it is. This is one story plucked from many, many more. Fortunately, it’s a relatively happy one but for most it’s far from okay. The Oscar nominations will see to it that this film reaches many more viewers than it would have otherwise, which, in my opinion, is what the true spirit of the Oscars should be about anyway.

Lion will have to live up to its veracious namesake against the other Best Picture contenders in order to actually bag a baldie. And the ‘Lion’ title? Well, that would be spoilers. A complete anti-climax, but a spoiler I would like to spare you nonetheless.

What did you think of Lion?

Tags: ,