Lion (2016)

(On Cable TV, August 2017) As much as it pains me to say this, I found Lion to be overlong, surprisingly dull and not quite as inspiring as it wants to be. The story of an Indian boy who ends up far away from home, is adopted by an Australian family and then (twenty years later) searches Google Earth to find his hometown, Lion should be far more interesting than it is. It’s certainly not without merit—the first half of the film does portray India with startling details, and it’s hard not to feel empathy for a five-year-old boy forced to survive so far away from home, with no idea how to get back. Then the film skips ahead, and can rely on the charm of Dev Patel as an expatriate finally using the resources at his disposal to find where he came from. There’s a little bit of modern technology marvelment as Google Earth is used to track down where he could be coming from, and then a conclusion’s worth of bittersweet happiness as he finds his mother again. But Lion is very, very long for the (admittedly true and untidy) story it tells, and at times it’s easy to wish that it would move just a bit faster. It also asks a lot of some viewers, and I’m not sure I can, as a dad, stomach the possibility of a five-year-old being lost so far away from home with no hope of returning. As a result, while the film is far from being a waste of time, I’m not quite as bullish on Lion as I’d like to be.

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