Lion, directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame (Saroo), is the thought-provoking film about the true power of love. Based on the book “A Long Way Home,” this true story goes into the loss of sanity that lost love can have on a person, Lion is the movie that gives the ‘feel good movie’ it’s definition, but requires some claw-trimming in the fields of pacing and character development.
This animal-of-a-film requires a fix to the pacing. At some points in Lion, the film briskly moves from one point to another, such as the third act. However, most of the movie tends to linger on side plots that make the film drag at points. For example, the first act of the movie introduces this young lady who helps Saroo for a moment, only to seemingly betray him. Personally, this feels like filler, as this small subplot feels useless in the grand scheme of things. You could possibly say it complements Saroo’s relationship to his future mother and father, but Saroo doesn’t change his outlook on other parental figures. If Lion streamlined this story to make events flow better and spend the extra time further developing characters, then this film would be perfectly trimmed.
On the subject of character development, Lion takes a different approach that almost works. Instead of fully understanding each character’s motivations and outlook on Saroo’s situation, the creative decided to make the film’s perspective fixed on Saroo alone, which is almost done right. When Lion does this ideology correct, is when Saroo is dealing with his emotional turmoil in conversation with others, but when the film wants to introduce separate subplots revolving on other events in his life, it fails to feel worthwhile. For example when the film introduces Saroo’s new brother Mantosh (Divian Ladwa), you learn that he has had a rougher time as an orphan than Saroo did with implied insanity involved, the film never goes further with it. Due to the limited perspective, you never get to learn about more situations like this. In most films, this isn’t a real issue, but in a situation that is a foil to Saroo’s own story it feels shoehorned in. The Lion creative team’s goal was to give the viewer a ‘feel good’ film with a lesson on what true love really is, and the film accomplishes their goal. However, the film doesn’t try and go out and improve what it has, of which needs a lot of refining. In the end, Lion feels like an overall disappointment from a fantastic base of a great story, basically becoming a beautiful lion that needs some trimming.