We’re all aware of the phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) for posts on the Internet. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2017 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.
However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.
So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review, because frankly most people are lazy. 2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.
TLDNW: 1 Word
TLDNW: 20 Words
Dev Patel crying over maps and … is hot? They finally let Nicole Kidman be Australian. The tiniest, cutest Indian boy. Rooney Mara dancing in the street???
TLDNW: 500 Words
Three out of Four Stars
There is something so beautiful about a foreign film. Something so beautifully un-American about how foreign films look and feel. They don’t have to answer to anyone. Lion is almost a foreign film. I mean technically it was produced by the Weinstein company and there’s no way this tiny film would have gotten any notice without being backed by Harvey himself. However, the film feels so foreign and it is a beautiful change of pace.
Lion follows a young Indian boy named Saroo who becomes lost in India and accidentally rides a train for miles and miles. He isn’t pronouncing his hometown’s name correctly so no one can help him and he ultimately ends up in an orphanage. This action, the following Saroo around India, is almost completely devoid of dialogue. Garth Davis, the director, said that he drew inspiration from Wall-e in watching a single character struggle in near silence. This too, adds to the feeling of foreignness. So few Blockbusters would dare spend that much time in silence. (UNLESS YOU’RE THE MOVIE SILENCE BADA-BOOM-BADA-BING, my life is lonely). Just over half way through the movie Saroo is adopted by a couple from Tasmania and the rest of the movie tracks Saroo’s search from home using the, at the time, recent technology of Google Maps. It’s a true story and it’s pretty incredible.
I was skeptical, like many of you I’m sure, about Dev Patel’s supporting actor nomination but it is true- he is in less than half of the film. Although he is the main character it is the adorable Sunny Pawar who plays Saroo for the majority of the film. Dev Patel is fantastic and it is no surprise that he was nominated for the supporting actor category. Nicole Kidman is also excellent and generally steals the show for the second half of the movie. Rooney Mara, who is usually so consistently good, is terrible. Her character is like a weird extension of her character in The Social Network (remember when she was in that?). Her character sits in the awful realm of being just a bland, flat, attempt at a love story. She should never play a normal character. He work in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is unparalleled, but keep her away from playing “the girlfriend”.
The thing I think I liked most about Lion, which is lost in lots of big movies, is that it focuses on the story. It doesn’t need to show excellent acting, or big effects, or a really overly clever script. Lion wants to tell you this incredible story. It wants you to cry and, although sometimes it tries a little hard, it succeeds. It’s the reason why the story isn’t told in flashbacks (kill me). It’s told in two parts. It doesn’t care how much screen time Dev Patel or Nicole Kidman get, because it wants to focus on telling you the story.
It’s also beautifully shot. It was nominated for cinematography, which it deserved, and some of the slow beautiful shots of impoverished India are fantastic. Anyway, it won’t win best picture and a lot of people probably won’t like it or dismiss it as schmaltzy – but I don’t really care.