Review by Dash Wilson.
In 1986, a five-year old Indian boy (Sunny Pawar, in his acting debut), gets separated from the brother he idolises and ends up alone more than a thousand miles from his family. After nearly a year, Sunny is adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) and raised in the small city of Hobart, Tasmania. Twenty years later, an adult Sunny (a never better Dev Patel) begins to search for the family he lost and in part for the identity that went with it.
Based on the stirring true story, Director Garth Davis in a highly impressive directorial debut pairs with Cinematographer Greig Fraser ACS ASC (Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher, Rogue One) to create an undeniably uplifting story that somehow overcomes the typical clichés of its genre. The soaring landscape and realistic atmosphere created are impressive and a joy to watch. The opening scenes should be used for an advertisement by the Indian Tourism Board. The opening third of Lion is the very definition of India. It is stunningly shot. Fraser, thoroughly deserving of his first Oscar nomination, uses a lot of natural light just like he did in the upcoming Mary Magdalene and both India and Tasmania have never looked better on screen. Ultimately though, it is a film not without its faults. The finale is a touch manipulative and parts of the middle third drag but it is nonetheless a beautiful story about identity, family and perseverance and a brilliant first feature from Garth Davis.
Reviewing all five films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2017, Dash Wilson is a film-lover based in Brisbane and is the resident Film Critic for Australian Cinematographer Magazine.