Lion (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

Lion (2016)



Critic Consensus: Lion's undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre.

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Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of Kilometers across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.


Dev Patel
as Saroo
Sunny Pawar
as Saroo (young)
Deepti Naval
as Ms. Sood
Divian Ladwa
as Mantosh
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Critic Reviews for Lion

All Critics (154) | Top Critics (40)

Lion represents a commitment from those involved and, flaws aside, it's an amazing tale of resilience and determination.

December 27, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Lion is a beautifully told, uplifting story of courage and determination.

December 23, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

"Lion" is a complex movie, with its profound themes of home and identity, and its tonally disparate halves. A smartly understated approach to Brierley's story holds it all together.

December 23, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Washington Post
Top Critic

Its themes are universal. Everyone has a home, and everyone feels connected to it, no matter how far they travel.

December 23, 2016 | Rating: A | Full Review…
Detroit News
Top Critic

Garth Davis uses close-ups sparingly and hits no false notes; cinematographer Greig Fraser creates a child's perspective by setting the camera at the hero's eye level and conveys the grandeur of India through sweeping panoramic and overhead shots.

December 22, 2016 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

"Lion" has one of those plot lines that feels like a Hollywood screenplay - except it actually happened.

December 22, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Lion

Most movies aren't as consistently good as Lion is. With two distinct halves, the first half is about a boy in India getting lost from his family, and the second half is about him trying to find his home again. It shows that a single, minute accident can completely change your life forever; and the beauty of Lion lies in the dynamic of it's simplicity and simultaneous complexity. The characters are so well written and this is even more obvious thanks to the ridiculously good performances from the entire cast. It's been a very long time since a movie has gotten this strong of an emotional reaction from me, and it's thoroughly glorious and emotionally resonating. From the stunning vistas and cinematography, to a soundtrack that fleshes out the story tenfold, to the acting of everyone involved, make for a masterpiece. From the first frame to the last, it's as a beautiful sprawling epic and ties with La La Land as the best film of 2016.

Kevin Mozulay
Kevin Mozulay

Super Reviewer


Lion isn't the most tightly directed film, nor the most emotionally impactful. But it's one of the most unique films I've seen this year. So much like Captain Fantastic, I really like the film as a whole, but I appreciate the film's originality even more. I always love sitting down for a film that's structured entirely different than your prototypical movie thrown in theaters every weekend. I love blockbusters as much as the next guy, but there's something to be said about smaller and more independently made features. Lion is based on a true story about an adopted boy, Saroo, who uses google earth to try and find his original family from India. As happens sometimes with true stories adapted into feature length films, it's difficult to structure a 2 hour story from events that took place over the course of several years. Lion begins when Saroo is only five years old, and spans over 20 years. To say this was a difficult story to adapt is an understatement, and I think this is the only area where the film really has some faults. After spending significant screen time with a young Saroo, you are asked to then follow a late 20's Saroo, played by Dev Patel, and it's not the smoothest of transitions. Granted, I got over it after a few scenes, but the very nature of this story makes it difficult to keep the flow even throughout. Patel, along with his young counterpart, Sunny Pawar, are terrific. As a first time actor, Pawar, had to take on an entire first act by himself, and you'd think he'd been doing this for years already. It's unlikely he'll come close to winning, but he should be considered for best supporting actor. You can't find that much charisma at that age easily. When Lion hits emotionally, it really hits. I think it's the time in between that takes the overall quality of the film down a notch. Some sporadic pacing and a story that calls for a wandering plot makes for a mediocre experience. But when the film chooses to sink your teeth into an extremely engrossing journey into what it feels like to be lost, it contains some of the most emotionally impactful sequences. The last shot says it all. I just wish it wasn't so few and far between. +Some heavy, heavy stuff here +Pawar is a young star +A Journey worth taking -Pacing -Story sometimes strays away from where it should stay 7.8/10

Thomas Drufke
Thomas Drufke

Super Reviewer

True stories can manipulate you into thinking that the actual story that happened is much more emotional that it actually way or vice versa. When a film chooses to show real footage throughout the end credits, it shows that the filmmakers took their time in casting the right talent ad showcasing the most important moment in their film to compare them. Of all the true stories that have come out this year or have yet to come out, I may just be remembering Lion above them all. Much more powerful than I was expecting it to be and taking very risky moves that most American films would never do, this film is easily near the top of my list for 2016. Here is why Lion is an incredibly powerful story that more people need to see. Boarding a train in his hometown after being left alone by his brother Guddu, young Saroo becomes lost on the streets of Calcutta. Battling his way through the streets in search for his family, he quickly realizes he is too far from home. Becoming adopted by an American family, he travels to live with them for over 25 years. Once he becomes a full grown adult, having a wonderful life with a girlfriend and a family that loves him, he makes it his mission to locate where he used to live as a child. Filled with incredibly moving performances from every cast member, Lion is a fantastic look into this true story that is more than satisfying in its final moments than I excepted. Dev Patel has gone back and forth between generic and quality films. From his performance in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, to his brutal presence in The Last Airbender, I can see why certain people may hesitate on seeing his films. Personally, I have enjoyed him in just about everything and this may just be his finest work yet. It should come as no surprise when you see that he is acting with talent lie Nicole Kidman or Rooney Mara, but he really is something to marvel at here. Not only Dev Patel, but Sunny Pawar who portrays the younger version of Saroo is also an incredibly talent young actor. The telling of this story was perfect from beginning to end, without getting to cheesy and the performances sell it tenfold. Having said that, there was one aspect that surprised me more than anything and that was having an American film with more than half of its run time with subtitles. For a film that does take place in foreign countries half of the time, it should come as no surprise that it would have subtitles, but I didn't expect the entire first half of the film to present that. Lion runs about a solid hour in both Hindi and Bengali before switching over to English when Saroo is adopted. This was a risk that I loved and serviced the film in so many positive ways. It only made the film better in my opinion, the fact that they were not trying to make it more generic. The only reason I bring this up, is to warn certain viewers who may not be expecting so many subtitles. That is only a warning for the film, not a flaw. I thought about Lion quite a bit after the screening I attended and I must say, I wouldn't have changed a single moment of this picture. From start to finish, my eyes were full of tears as I gawked at the imagery, beautiful storytelling, fantastic camerawork, and jaw-dropping performance, along with a conclusion that truly took my breath away. To conclude, I can't express my love for this film enough. I don't think Lion is manipulative in any way, nor is it cheesy. It spends just the right amount of time in certain parts of the world and is paced wonderfully. Some people may not quite get enough out of the romantic aspect between Dev Patel and Rooney Mara, but I completely bought into that aspect of this story. Lion is definitely a film that needed to be made and I am disappointed that it is not being talked about as much as other awards contenders. This truly is a superb film. Emotion, score, direction, performances, and a screenplay that is not too far overdone are all aspects that make for a terrific film based on a true story. Every single one of those aspects are present here and I found myself in tears throughout the entire duration. Lion is one of the best films of the year!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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