Stirred, not Shaken, Sir: My Experience with Lion, the Movie


This post does contain spoilers.

I will be the first to freely admit that I'm not much of a movie guy. Sure, I will sit down and watch a theatrical release (and perhaps even enjoy it if the planets align), but they've just never really been my cup of tea. If I did have to only watch one genre of film for the rest of my life, though, I would probably put something light-hearted like a sitcom, or something a little slapstick. Basically, anything that doesn't require me to get invested and think about the plot.

So what was I doing watching a drama film at the cinema today? Well, when you're around your buddies, watching the animated kids' film probably isn't the best step to becoming socially competent. Plus, when you're at the cinema, you want something a bit more than just a production you switch your brain off at. Enter Lion.

I had honestly never heard of this film until today, but we were forced to look through the list of films that were on before entering, because neither of us particularly keep up with the latest releases, and I flat-out refuse to see La La Land. After reading the blurb, Lion sounded engaging - but I knew in the back of my head it had the chance to be cliché central.

The film opens with some beautiful-looking cinematography. Little did I know these exceptional shots would last throughout the entire film. We also immediately get introduced to the main character, 5-year-old Saroo, and his brother, who do hard labour for small earnings to essentially keep their family alive.

I don't want to do the whole plot rundown (even though I will spoil it anyway), but the basic thing you need to know is Saroo gets lost as his brother leaves him on a bench. Saroo - still only 5 at this point - gets back on the train, assuming it will take him back home. Little did he know he would be heading nearly 1,000 miles in the wrong direction.

We follow Saroo throughout the movie with his emotions being very clearly conveyed to the audience. In 10 minutes of movie time we see he goes from homeless, to being kidnapped, to being adopted by an Australian couple; it's quite obviously hectic for him. Upon being adopted, we see he shows signs of adapting to the new culture, before the movie suddenly jumps another 20 years.

All grown up, and on a mission

This was now essentially the 'second half' of the movie. Saroo is in his mid-20s, he speaks fluent English, and seems to have life in order. However, he has a mission: to find his mum. Even at the mature age, he has strong memories of his childhood, and even certain foods give him vivid flashbacks - vivid enough to set himself on a mission to find his real family.

What follows is what I can only call an emotional masterpiece. This movie shows pretty much every human emotion under the sun, and they're always displayed so appropriately, so elegantly, that it really hits you. I know I've already spoilt a lot of the movie, but I won't give away the ending. Just know it was an exceptional bomb of emotion - the cinema room was full of people sniffling. The way the movie showed direct comparisons of real life events at the end is very powerful, too. The characters were spot on. I didn't even know it was a real story, so to drop that bombshell at the end just makes everything more hard-hitting.

The story isn't deep or clever (why manipulate real life?), but the way it's shot, and the way everything is conveyed is nothing short of jaw dropping. This may have the same genre banner as EastEnders, but honestly, it's on another level. Trust me: I actually enjoyed it.

Edit (12/2/17): Lion managed to win two awards at the BAFTAs tonight! Thoroughly well deserved - I'm amazed it doesn't have the attention it deserves.