In The Nick Of Time
Stars: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Sunny Pawar, pian Ladwa, Abhishek Bharate, David Wenham, Priyanka Bose and Rooney Mara
Director: Garth Davis
Scriptwriter: Luke Davies
Composers: Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
Cinematographer: Greig Fraser
The Weinstein Company
Rating: R for violence and themed material including children in danger
Running Length: 120 minutes
Screened at the Kansas International Film Festival (KIFF) Nov, 5, 2016
2016 has turned into a stellar year for films. The first half of the year was average, but the last half has brought forth “Jackie,” “Manchester By The Sea,” “Fences,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “La La Land” and now, “Lion.” This film, “Lion,” is from the real life story of Saroo Brierley, (played as an adult by Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire”). We learn how Saroo as a child (Sunny Pauar) became lost from his family, went to an orphanage and then was adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham.) Finding your birth parent is a circuitous route, both emotionally and physically. Bring hanky to theater. Along with the actors, Greig Fraser’s cinematography is stellar as well as Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka’s soundtrack. Let the journey begin.
We start with a single mother (Priyanka Bose) raising three children. There is the older son, Gudda (Abhishek Bharate), the middle child about age six, a son, Saroo (Sunny Pauar) and a girl toddler. They live in poverty with the mother working hard to support the family, and the boys gathering coal or whatever they can find, for extra funds. The family is happy. One night, the boys go to the railroad track to gather fallen coal, they become separated, with Saroo being left on a train. He is there for days and ends up almost a thousand miles away from home, can't speak the language and has one harrowing experience after another before ending up in an orphanage. He keeps hoping his brother will find him. Saroo is adopted by Sue (Kidman) and John (Wenham) Brierley, who live in Australia. Years pass and Saroo is now an adult, has computer skills, a girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and a younger, adopted brother who is troublesome, Mantosh (pian Ladwa.) Eventually, using Google, Saroo decides to try to find his family, with the help of his girlfriend (Rooney Mara.), though over 20 years have passed. There are obstacles and one by one, we begin to see that poverty in India is the same as when he was a child. He sees it, too, and is appalled, looking at the luxury he has now. This question looms: is Google always correct? Software is only as good as what is programmed into it. Hmm.
“Lion” is really two films in one. The first half is Saroo as a child and the last half as an adult. Difficult for Oscar nomination time, so both stars, Patel and Pauar, could receive nominations as Supporting Actors. There is always a chance in an adoption, that the child will have physical and/or emotional problems later in life. In the Brierley family, Saroo is fine, but Mantosh is not. Both actors, Patel and Ladwa, show the give-and-take of “brothers” as in one way, they fit into society, and in another, they don't. Nicole Kidman as Sue Brierley gives a measured performance as a loving Mom with much patience, and David Wenham as her husband, John, is the same. They guard their children and try to do the best they can for them both emotionally and materially. But the sense that somewhere out there is another part of the family has a keen hold, too. Then, as the film has gathered momentum, I reference the first paragraph of this review. Prepare yourself.
“Lion” had me at the beginning of the film with poverty and happiness. A single mother and smiling children. Shared food and laughter. Acting brings the audience into the film, along with subtitles to show the difference in language within a country. Cinematography gives you a wide scope of life and the narrowness of buildings, while the soundtrack is appropriate for both Indian scenes and adult scenes of commercial radio music. Director Gareth Davis has pulled it together for a tale of two countries, two cities and two lives twenty years apart. Enjoy.
Copyright 2016 Marie Asner