Thus begins Oscar season (okay it's actually been underway for a while). Two contenders this week based on true stories. One I liked, one I think you can pass on. Both are clearly gunning for Academy Awards but I think only one deserves a possible nomination.
First is "Lion" which tells the true story of Saroo Brierly who got lost in India as a child, adopted to Australia, and eventually found his home again as an adult using Google Earth. Dev Patel stars as Saroo, with Nicole Kidman as his adoptive mother, and Rooney Mara as his love interest.
The film is almost two different movies. The first act is almost harrowing (but it's based on a true story so a lot of the mystery is stripped away as you know how it ends if you've seen the trailer, read the book, or heard any of the promotional materials.)
I was lucky enough to chat to screenwriter Luke Davies off camera, and he said a huge inspiration for him was "Wall-E" which is one of my favorite films (controversial choice of Pixar film, I'm aware). I can see the similarities as the first third of that film is essentially a pantomime, as is "Lion."
Tonally I felt it fell apart when we meet grown up Saroo. I think Dev Patel is a wonderful actor and gives a decent performance in this, but something about it felt almost sterile to me. More in the audio review.
The second is "Jackie" starring Natalie Portman, and is the tale of the days following John F. Kennedy's assassination. I might have been more emotional about this than others as I saw this on the anniversary of JFK's assasination.
While at times it felt like it bordered on caricature, going back and watching actual historical footage of Jackie Kennedy increased my respect for Natalie Portman's performance.
The latest interviews, reviews, and opinions on film by Dana Han-Klein. Thoughts and opinions are entirely my own and not reflective of my employer or any third parties.
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