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Lion Movie Review (2016) | A Biopic that Promises to Rip your Heart Out

If you haven’t watched Lion Movie up till now, I beseech you to watch it right away. The Oscar Nominated movie (in six categories) is a flick so profound, touching and melancholic, that it is definitely going to leave you wiping your tears. It is a true story based on the book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley, which packs in a gut-wrenching tale of a lost boy who tries to find his origins.

Direction of Lion Movie

Lion Movie is directed by Garth Davis. His direction is simply mesmerizing. He doesn’t leave out the details, doesn’t rush things, doesn’t leapfrog to show you just the crucial moments, rather focuses on stepping stones that are paramount in properly packing up an entire story.

With Greig Fraser by his side, he picks up long rails to depict Saroo’s running, follows the protagonist up from beautiful angles. Greig and Garth have a keen eye for capturing beautiful shots. It is evident when they choose to sit behind characters, capture vista from distant locations and walk alongside his people. I loved how the former sometimes chose to clear the lens on a face.

Also, nothing seems insincere. The cast is lost just like the child is. Garth brings out some dogged acting from even a young child like Sunny Pawar. Nobody is aware of the camera and that’s what makes things more uncontrived.

Plot of Lion Movie (Spoilers Ahead)

The plot of the Lion Movie is nothing but leaflets from the real Saroo’s book. The movie starts off with little Saroo helping his brother Guddu steal coal from a chugging train, which they use to trade milk to get by. They have an amazing relationship. Guddu is always taking care of Saroo, given how young Saroo is, appreciating him for every tiny effort of his. Both enjoy each other’s company a lot.

still of Saroo played by Sunny Pawar in Lion movie

Saroo wishes to accompany Guddu who goes to a job at a place nearby. His resolve to prove that he is no longer a mere child when he picks up a chair and then a bicycle goes on to show how eager he is to spend more time with his brother. Sunny Pawar simply nails that part.

The Lost Boy

They head to a nearby station platform where Saroo ends up dozing off. Guddu promises to return asking him not to go anywhere. Waking him, not finding Guddu around he boards a train wondering if his brother’s there. Tired, he once again sleeps, wakes up only to find the train moving. Doors are locked, and he is stranded in a moving train. The train goes on, ends up reaching Calcutta. Being too young and naive he doesn’t know or understand how he could get back to his hometown. He remembers her mother’s name to be “Ammi”, remembers the place he lived in as “Gneshtali” and doesn’t know the way of the world.

Saroo, the lost boy, wanders the city, finds its ugly jaws trying to get a piece of him. He is hungry, unfed, and he keeps narrowly escaping trouble. Until one day a man finds him and takes him to the police. With no place to map him to, they find him an orphanage. Around three months later, with the help of an advertisement about the child, an Australian couple, Sue Brierley played by Nicole Kidman and John Brierley played by David Wenham, decide to adopt him. Saroo’s upbringing happens in Hobart, Tasmania along with another adopted brother Mantosh who has rage issues.

You can buy the movie Lion here:

The Time Leap

The movie then traces the worried mind of an adult Saroo Brierley who is trying to find his forgotten origins. He is constantly peeved by the fact how his real mother and brother must be still searching for him, while he breaks bread unperturbed. He finds love in Lucy played by Rooney Mara but ends up being distant owing to the constant buzz in his head. Same he does with his parents. Afraid to tell them about his desire to see his real mother, he locks himself up in his house, and subjects himself to thorough brainstorming.

still of Rooney Mara and Dev Patel in Lion Movie

The movie captures the minutiae of his thoughts, how he wishes to locate his mother and brother. He imagines them still looking for him, on the station, at the river. He begins seeing their profiles in broad daylight, losing it every day.

One day he goes back to Sue, his mother to tell her how sorry he was, and how hard it must have been for her to own kids with a past. She replies that it was their choice to adopt reasoning:

The world has enough people in it. Have a child, couldn’t guarantee it will make anything better. But to take a child that’s suffering like you boys were. Give you a chance in the world. That’s something.

One day with the help of Google Earth he locates the exact location of his house thus pinpointing his origin. He then sets out to meet his mother and brother. On reaching there he finds his mother. The atmosphere erupts in delirium. He gathers that Guddu, his brother, was dead. He had died the same night he had gone missing, hit by a train. Saroo finds his sister Shekila too, and with that family reunion the movie concludes.

Minor Issues

Whilst Garth gave his level best in terms of direction, casting of Saroo’s real mother seemed a tad out of place. Kamla was terribly done. She seemed distant with her acting. Whilst there were plenty of good Indian actresses out there who would have nailed Saroo’s mother avatar, Garth Davis decided to choose Priyanka Bose for the role. I wonder why.

Guddu’s angle was, I felt, necessary too. If it wasn’t for Guddu’s accident, he would have come nevertheless for his brother. That sheer fact could have been milked to ooze out more feels. But even without that, the Lion movie has enough reasons to send you on a sobbing spree.

The Final Verdict

The Lion Movie is one of the saddest stories you will ever hear, and the fact that it’s all true makes you mewl even more. I kept weeping the whole movie. It is hard not to empathize with the boy, the plight of the adult Saroo, as he begins to experience that gush of emotion that overwhelms with pain and missing.

To do something so selfless and noble as to adopt a child from a different land, giving him a life and providing for him, is simply commendable. You can’t stop applauding the Brierleys enough. It puts hope back into the world where it should belong. At the same time, it inspires us to do something of the kind. You never know a Saroo could still be out there, waiting for his directions to come.

You listen to its amazing score, and your heart ends up being a slave to the angst. Dustin O’ Halloran and Volker Bertelmann (Hauschka) simply aggrandize the movie with their music. They are placed at right junctures to fill you up with emotional trauma.

A flick that everyone should watch. A real life tale that should not be missed for the world.

You can check out the trailer of Lion Movie here:

 

The Man Who Knew Infinity Review (2015)

The Man Who Knew Infinity is a good biopic, not the greatest of ones, but does ample justice to the prodigy.

A BRIEF GLIMPSE INTO THE PAST

I remember reading an extraordinary account of Ramanujan from Hardy’s pages back in school, where he subtly described the genius he was and the valuable contribution he made to the Mathematical society. I distinctly remember G.H. Hardy’s thoughts what Ramanujan meant to him, and how impactful was the polymath to his life. Their friendship could be read through those pages I had the good hap of reading.

With that memory stick I went ambling to the theatres to see The Man Who Knew Infinity. To begin with the direction I must say, Matt Brown has a lot of ground to cover. You could see his inexperience through the way he chops off a frame. It leaves you almost baffled. He doesn’t concentrate much on the crucial elements that needs depicting but rather fleets from one cloud to another with a skittish head. There is no subtlety to his frames.

QUESTIONABLE STORYTELLING STYLE

The music in the movie doesn’t complement his work either. It is not at all powerful, and doesn’t ever reach a theatrical level at any juncture. Speaking of theatrics, there is none in the movie. So you can expect a very bland and insipid way of storytelling that will make you averse to the Ramanujan way of living almost instantly.

WHAT STILL WORKS FOR THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY

Despite all of the above, what tries to uplift The Man Who Knew Infinity? Who works the best? Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel hands down. Their acting prowess is a joy to watch. Au contraire, some actors we meet in the beginning are really pathetic in the acting department, exacerbated further by Brown’s direction. But then gradually the biopic picks up its pace and we see Jeremy Irons on a roll. His speeches are intelligently carved, and his reckless yet powerful voice does justice to all of them. Toby Jones as Littlewood was a pleasant genial companion. Jeremy Northam does a great Bertrand Russell as well.

AFFAIR WITH ORIGINALITY

The story doesn’t digress from the original which was a good thing. The number 1729 isn’t missed either. The setup however gets a little bit morphed there, but we can understand that was done for emphasis. The drama isn’t the touching kind.

THE RAMANUJAN FATE

It is unfortunate what happens to great men. S. Ramanujan couldn’t escape life’s unpredictable warps either, and ended up disappearing in a dire mist.

At the end I feel his life needs to be glorified a bit more. There was little we saw of his origins, and his progression towards his virtuoso which is a key factor into moulding a prodigy-biopic.

What Matt did with The Man Who Knew Infinity was good but what Ramanujan deserves is the best.

Chappie Review (2015)

Chappie misses out by miles on what it set out to achieve. The trailer promised an epic tale of Sci-Fi with A.I. in its vanguard manifesting right bits of drama. Unfortunately it belied the actual prosaic content.

Taking Elysium’s mediocrity into consideration, Neil Blomkamp’s robot with a mind of his own doesn’t go far either. You can munch on your popcorn pointing out at the clumsiness of the machine, but that’s pretty much it. It isn’t outstanding. At the same time it is entirely bad either.

The plot of the flick unfolds brilliantly at first however midway ends up being insipid. The story is very predictable to the point you might actually end up saying: I saw that coming! As the movie reaches its laughable climax, you just wonder out loud if the director was really serious going in for the bizarre cessation.

Chappie was written poorly in mediocrity. The only thing that works pretty well for the movie is its visual effect. Details on the robot are extremely well fabricated. Also some action visuals look pretty dope.

Chappie cannot be compared to the likes of any good artificial intelligence movie. Nowhere near A.I. or Her of course. Its drama isn’t at all moving. Screenplay has nothing much to offer and every projected bit seems deliberate – to make the movie work of course.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

To begin with, Chappie lacks focus big time. There is literally no time spent on character development, and we are forced to jump into a pyre of a chaotic backdrop with a news report showing glimpses of quintessential elements in the tale. You are shown a tattered robot receiving an engineering treatment. The amount of focus it receives tells us it must be our protagonist. (Very obvious direction!) You have a creator (Dev Patel), an antagonist brimming with malice (Hugh Jackman), and a boss (Sigourney Weaver) that doesn’t do much for whom both are working. For an A.I. to learn stuff, Neil throws Chappie into an abyss of gangsters to spice things up, with an unusual home to influence his mind with outrageous stuff and contrasting moral values. Although to our surprise the lady gangster starts playing mommy out of the blue. A softer side emerges in her and that too without any drama.

Whilst Chappie is learning stuff, at first things are a tad cute, but as we dig deeper it becomes downright sad. Dev Patel seems to be in a constant fit. He looks like he is heading for a nervous breakdown. Hugh’s presence was supposed to make things powerful however Neil doesn’t offer him much to act on.

Neil’s obsession with Sci-Fi has become sheer pathetic. He seems to be trying to assemble a golden egg like District 9 but unfortunately he has simply ran out of juice. He doesn’t surprise us anymore. With Chappie coming in strong as a bland and lacklustre movie, I wonder what would he do to his next best thing – The Alien project?