BLU-RAY REVIEW: LION


THE SET-UP
When five year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets stuck aboard a train in India, he finds himself lost and unable to find home. Eventually adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), an adult Saroo (Dev Patel) sets off to find his home, and the family he once knew.
Directed by Garth Davis

THE DELIVERY

True-life tales can often make amazing films, and there’s hardly a more amazing true-life tale than the one offered by LION, starring Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire). The film tells the story of Saroo, a young Indian boy who is separated from his family and eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Years later, an adult Saroo sets out to find his Indian family, using a new technology called Google Earth to guide his search.

Garth Davis, in his directing debut, delivers a heart-wrenching yet life-affirming tale that earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Lost a bit in the shuffle of Oscar hype that included La La Land and Moonlight, a home video release should give LION the audience and the appreciation it rightfully deserves.


Dev Patel delivers a fantastic turn as the adult Saroo, who is haunted by his memories of his family back in India and eventually acts to find the lost piece of himself. His performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and he is matched by co-star Nicole Kidman, who also earned an Oscar nod (Best Supporting Actress) playing Saroo’s adoptive mother. 

The first half of the film, which follows a young Saroo, features a heart-breaking performance by Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo. This kid does more acting with a single look than some Hollywood brats have managed in entire careers. He connects in a way few young actors can, and his outstanding work provides the emotional foundation for Patel to expand on in the film’s second half. 

LION is not a feel-good movie in the traditional sense, but it inspires the soul all the same. It is absolutely one of the best films of 2016. It is emotionally affecting and bittersweet, and it is an uplifting experience that should not be missed. Just do not forget the Kleenex.


VIDEO AND AUDIO
Anchor Bay provides a solid video transfer, with good detail and minimal grain. It has a slightly gritty look, to match the setting and time period of parts of the film. It’s an effective look that doesn’t subtract from the visual quality. The audio is 5.1 DTS HDMA mix in both English and French. It may not have the dynamic bass of some action blockbusters, but you won’t need it or miss it. The dialogue is crisp and the channel separation provides good clarity.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The bonus features may not be extensive, but they do the job, providing some insight into the making of the film. That insight comes via a handful of featurettes, including one featuring the real-life Saroo.

The special features are as follows.

Deleted Scenes. The deleted scenes include “Dance Party,” “Panic Attack,” and “Saroo in the Lake.” Two of the scenes expand on the personal emotional suffering an adult Saroo endured, and are worth watching. Total running time: 4:36.

A section of the bonus features titled “Behind the Scenes Gallery” includes a selection of five featurettes about the making of the film. They include:

“A Conversation with Saroo Brierley” featurette. The real-life Saroo recounts his experiences, which are chronicled in his book A Long Way Home. The book, in turn, became the film. It’s a must watch to see the man behind the story. Running time: 7:49.


“Dev Patel” featurette. The actor discusses his approach to the role and his commitment to bringing the story to life. Running time: 3:22.

“Nicole Kidman” featurette. The actress talks about portraying Saroo’s adoptive mother. Running time: 3:10

“Director Garth Davis” featurette. Davis discusses creating his first feature film, and the actors involved provide their insight in working with him. Running time: 3:37


“Making the Music” featurette. Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, the film’s composers, discuss their work on the film. Running time: 4:16

Lyric Video. Sia’s “Never Give Up,” which plays over the films credits, gets a lyric video featuring imagery and themes from the film. No actual Sia is included. Running time: 3:45

Digital Copy. A code for a digital version of the film, redeemable through Ultraviolet or iTunes, is included.

THE BOTTOM LINE: LION is a touching, bittersweet triumph
One of the most emotionally affecting human stories put to film this past year, LION ranks as my favorite film from the past year. It isn’t an easy film to watch, and it may not call for repeat viewings, but it will stay with you for a long time.


BLU-RAY SPECS
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Running Time: 118 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, French 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English for the Hearing Impaired, French for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Behind the Scenes Gallery, Lyric video.
Label: Anchor Bay

Click here to order LION on Blu-ray from Amazon!


Victor Medina is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He is the editor of several websites, and his writing credits include The Dallas Morning News, Yahoo News, Cinelinx.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at vic@victormedina.com.

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