Lion22 Dec 2016
There were multiple points in this movie when I thought the sobbing and sniffling noises were part of the score. Or maybe they were diegetic sounds. Everyone in the theater was sobbing by the end of the movie. A bald-faced appeal to pathos is usually a recipe for eye-rolls, but this film largely earns the emotionality it wants from viewers.
I didn’t expect as much of the movie to take place in India, perhaps because of the trailers or perhaps because other movies in this vein are quick to spend time in the West. But when the opening credits were rolling and I saw Indian name after Indian name, my intrigue rose. An hour into the movie, we still hadn’t left India, and I began to realize, this wasn’t the story I came in expecting.
I wasn’t the only person whose expectations were upended by this film. Dev Patel, in an interview given during this movie’s press cycle, remarked on how infrequently he gets roles where his inner life, his romantic life, and emotional variety are asked of him. This wasn’t a ground-breaking film but it avoided some pitfalls it could’ve fallen down. We still get to know the white mother much more than the Indian mother. We still get a lead actor who looks nothing like the man the film is based on. But we’re getting closer.