Vince The Cinephile’s review published on Letterboxd:
Finally, something that Google Earth can brag about. Garth Davis’ well-intentioned, sometimes moving Lion is your typical Oscar fare inspirational flick with strong performances to overcome its weak structure. Lion centers on a lost Indian boy and his further reconnection with his family and homeland when he became an adult. This is an inspiring story indeed, and without a doubt, a moving one. Davis honors his real-life characters with a touch of sincerity and passion, however as a film, Lion is trapped in the structural conventions of a typical Oscar-Weinstein fare and never aimed to reach higher.
The first half circles around Sunny Pawar, the young Saroo, and honestly the best part of the film. Davis put a nostalgic, almost documentary-like focus on young Saroo’s journey. I wished Saroo never grew up and stayed there as a film. Chapter 2 comes in, now played by Dev Patel, is immersed in so many clichés and forced emotions which weakened the film’s integrity strongly built by its first chapter.
The technical elements are okay, except the original score which is divine. The performances are great however. Sunny Pawar is brilliant. His instinctive intelligence, and rawness as a non-pro makes the event more palpable and moving. Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman are okay, but wished there’s more to their characters. Rooney Mara is strong as well, although her presence as Saroo’s girlfriend feels like a forced subplot. Overall, I wished Lion aimed and roared more. I feel that there is a potential for Davis and his film to be transcending. But it stayed safe within the conventions without bringing more surprise to the table.