Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sunny Pawar
Written by: Luke Davies, based on a book by Saroo Brierley
Directed by: Garth Davis
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and some sensuality
Language: In English, Bengali, Hindi, with English subtitles
Running Time: 118
Date: 11/25/2016

Lion (2016)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Mane Streets

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Lion is middlebrow mediocrity served up by the Weinsteins on a silver platter for awards season. Directed by Garth Davis, a former maker of commercials, Lion begins by asking us to watch nearly an hour of the misery, hardship, and hopelessness of a sweetly adorable young boy (Sunny Pawar); it all has a "isn't this heartbreaking?" tone. Finally, the boy grows into Dev Patel, with a beard and long, flowing hair that cascades over his forehead in moments of emotional distress. Then we spend roughly another 40 minutes as he anguishes over his real parents, and how to find them. These scenes mostly consist of Dev clicking around on Google Earth, pushing pins into a map, and occasionally weeping. Then we get the reunion scene, which — highlighted by Davis's obsessive need to jump-cut every second-and-a-half — does not have the power it should. Nicole Kidman is getting Oscar buzz as the adoptive mom who has the courage to appear un-beautiful onscreen. Rooney Mara co-stars as the hero's girlfriend whose entire state of existence depends on whatever mood he's in. It was adapted from an autobiography, and there are photos at the end to reassure us that this was, indeed, based on a true story. I doubt the true story is as trite as this movie.

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