Lion ★★½

A story this inherently interesting -- about Saroo Brierley's separation from his family in India at age five, leading to a long quest to reconnect with them as an adult long after being adopted and transported to Australia -- requires considerable chutzpah to really screw up, but leave it to the Weinstein machine to process it conveniently into the most arid, tasteless brand of prestige picture cheese. Clearly cut down from something longer and more detailed, it essentially consists of 90 minutes of vague emotional buildup followed by a few seconds of tentative sort-of-catharsis that feels incredibly phony, then nothing. Dev Patel proves a solidly attractive participant in this homogenization, joined by a slumming Nicole Kidman in one of her periodic my-unusual-getup-is-"acting" modes. Other characters come and go mysteriously, especially Rooney Mara as a pointless, poorly written Whiplash-style girlfriend included in the film just to give Saroo someone to ignore while he wanders into his A Beautiful Mind-style obsession of reconstructing his childhood. That, by the way, is an absorbing concept that could hardly be duller in execution; what we're treated to amounts to Google Maps: The Movie, accompanied by probably the most repetitive score (by Dustin O'Halloran and New Age revivalist Hauschka) since Philip Glass' for The Hours. It's not so much that this is bad as that it's just disheartening, and insulting -- this is what deep moviemaking for grownups is nowadays? This formulaic shit, with all the dramatic revelations and confessionals in ex-act-ly the cor-rect pos-i-ti-ons? No offense but I'm just sick of this kind of flat overfamiliarity; it looks and feels as slick and empty as a hundred other films, only rising above the humdrum in the early, harrowing scenes showing the tragic details of Saroo's initial wandering.

Nathan liked this review