Films depict emotion journey and delightful comedy
by Alan Charlton
Lion, The Lego Batman Movie, In cinemas throughout the Lower Mainland
Photo Caption: Left: Sunny Pawar and Deepti Naval star in a scene from the movie Lion. Right: The Lego Batman Movie stars Will Arnett as the voice of Batman. Both films centre around the theme of family and relationships, writes Alan Charlton. However, Lion offers a serious and emotional experience, while Lego Batman entertains via wit. (Left:) CNS photo / The Weinstein Company / (Right:) Warner Bros
It is a cliché to say truth is often stranger than fiction, but as with most clichés there is validity to the statement. Certainly it applies to the story line of the movie Lion, an account of the real-life story of Saroo Brierley.
The narrative has two distinct sections. The first and most compelling tells what happens when the older brother of young Saroo, who lives in a small village in India, decides to leave home. Saroo is determined to accompany him, but is accidentally separated from him and finds himself trapped on a train, eventually to arrive in Calcutta.
Unable to speak the language or even correctly identify the name of his native village, he faces a multitude of dangers, all the time tormented by his wish to return to his mother.
Eventually, after many challenging experiences, he is adopted by a wonderful and loving Australian couple, all the while tormented by vague memories of his early life. Eventually, with the aid of Google Earth he discovers where he was born and is determined to go back and find his birth mother.
What makes Lion a rewarding experience is the deftness with which director Derek Garth Davies has been able to capture the emotions of the characters. This is particularly true of the first half of the film, where Sunny Pawar, an inexperienced actor who speaks no English, is able to capture the range of emotions that the young Saroo experienced with heart-tugging conviction. It is a riveting performance and one which will move many to tears.
Though the second half of the film is somewhat less successful, Dev (Slumdog Millionaire) Patel provides a convincing portrait of a young man torn between his loving adoptive parents and his desire to go back to his roots. In a less than glamourous role, Nicole Kidman, as his adoptive mother Sue Brierley, turns in one of the best performances of her career.
Lion works on several levels. It brilliantly illustrates one of the social problems of India, where 30,000 children are “lost” each year. It is a salutary account of the importance of family. It is a magnificent account of an ideal adoptive family. And, above all, it takes the audience on an unforgettable emotional journey.
By contrast, The Lego Batman Movie is simply a light-hearted romp. Unlike many sequels, the film maintains the high level of achievement of the previous Lego movie, though fans of the Batman franchise are likely to get more out of it than those who have only a cursory knowledge of the action hero, in both his comic book and film incarnations., but most people will enjoy the film.
The main attraction of the film lies in its witty script. The jokes, largely at the expense of Batman himself, come frequently and rapidly – indeed, so rapidly that in one viewing one can only hope to catch a portion of them. This is not to say that the film invokes loud laughter; rather it inspires a huge number of smiling reactions as the characters interact in a series of delightfully comic verbal exchanges. Indeed, it is doubtful whether youngsters will be able to appreciate much of the wit, though there is action a-plenty to engage them.
Though clearly aimed as much or more at adults than children, the animated film delivers an eye-catching and marvelously detailed array of images. These are so cleverly realized that at times one finds oneself wishing that one could set the projection at slow motion to give one time to appreciate all that is going on.
As if all this were not enough, the film also conveys a worthy message: that we all need to have and need to acknowledge relationships in our lives to give them meaning. It may be trite, but it is worth saying – and here it is said particularly well.
In fact, the one negative of the film, at least for those who appreciate this genre, is that it presents such a barrage of clever dialogue and visual stimulation that it becomes decidedly exhausting, particularly as, unlike many animated features, it is over 100 minutes in length. The film is indeed successful at what it attempts, and even the most loyal of Batman fans will never be able to look at their hero in quite the same way ever again. The Lego Batman Movie really delivers.