We tend to use the word “melodrama” as a pejorative, but good melodrama – melodrama that hits all the right notes of sentimentality and realism – can be wonderfully beautiful and moving. The Weinstein Company must be hoping for that with their new film Lion, a movie practically made to be Oscar bait.
Lion stars Dev Patel as Saroo, a young man who was separated from his family as a child and wound up traveling thousands of miles across India by train. He learns to survive alone until he’s finally adopted by an Australian couple – and now, many years later, he wants to find his birth family. With the help of some friends and Google Earth, Saroo sets out to discover his home and return to the family who lost him.
The trailer for Lion makes a good case for the film, combining lovely imagery with Saroo’s compelling voiceover, as he remembers his mother and brother. His anger his fear, and his hope to finally discover his home once more are all palpable – a testament to Patel’s acting ability. Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and Rooney Mara are also on hand to lend further weight to the film’s Oscar bid, and it’s directed by Garth Davis, best known for his work on Top of the Lake.
Lion is set to show at TIFF, a sure indiction that the Weinsteins are pushing for at least a few Oscar nods with this one, if not Best Picture. But at the end of the day, the quality of the film is what matters. Oscar or no Oscar, will it connect with audiences? This one can go either way, towards the maudlin and corny, or towards quality melodrama. I personally hope for the latter – there’s nothing wrong with melodrama, and it seem sthat there’s a lot going for this one.
Lion opens on November 25th.