Posts Tagged ‘Dev Patel’

lion

Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is a five year old boy growing up in rural India.  Saroo and his brother, Guddu (Abishek Bharate) are so poor, they collect rocks to sell for money.  One day, while tagging along with Guddu, Saroo and Guddu get separated and Saroo ends up asleep alone on a train.  By the time Saroo wakes up, he is lost in the Bengali city of Calcutta.  He tries to tell people where he lives, but is too young to remember the proper name of his village.  He wanders the streets of Calcutta for a few days, until a woman named Noor (Tannishtha  Chatterjee) takes him in and introduces Saroo to a man named Rama (Nawazuddin Saddiqui)  who promises to take him to a nice place.  It doesn’t take Saroo long to realize Noor and Rama are up to no good.  Saroo runs away, and eventually ends up in an orphanage.  He is adopted by an Australian couple, John Brierly (David Wenham) and Sue. (Nicole Kidman)

Saroo Brierly (Dev Patel) grows up comfortably in Australia, goes to a hotel management class, finds a girlfriend, Lucy (Rooney Mara) and his future seems bright.  But Saroo is haunted by the memory of his birth mother, brother, and sister.  At the same time, Saroo does not want to cause his adoptive mother any undue pain.  He is torn.  What does Saroo do?  Does he look for his birth family or does he remain in his comfortable life in Australia?

Lion has a compelling story to tell.  It is especially compelling in the first hour, where it conveys the confusion and despair of a boy who is lost in a big city very well.  The second half of the movie is not as successful because it gets bogged down in Saroo’s conflicts with his adoptive brother, and his relationship with his girlfriend, or is Lucy his wife?  The writing concerning both Lucy and Saroo’s adoptive brother was maddeningly vague.  Did the brother have emotional problems or a mental disability?  These are details most people wouldn’t care about but they bothered me.  However, the ending did have an emotional punch, and was satisfying.

The acting was good, but one person stood out, and it’s not the one who got the Oscar nomination.  Little Sunny Pawar gave a powerful performance as young Saroo, he carried the movie on his little shoulders, for as long as he was in the movie, and gave an emotionally varied performance.  He was a happy go-lucky kid one minute, and desperately searching for his brother the next.  It was a surprising range of emotions for such a little boy.   Another great performance was given by Tannistha Chatterjee, who is kind but sly, and plays the duplicitous role well.  Dev Patel is ok, not great, because he doesn’t convey the angst of his pain with as much intensity as Sunny Pawar.  Nicole Kidman has a role with surprisingly little impact, which is the writers’ fault, not Kidman’s fault.  Similarly, Rooney Mara is given little to do.

The pacing seems to match the storyline, the first hour us fast paced and exciting, the second hour slows down considerably.  The director does get good performances from most of the cast, and does make the ending worth watching, but maybe more of the Australian scenes could have been edited to get to the ending faster.

Lion Roars out of the gates, is tame later.

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THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

Sonny Kappor’s (Dev Patel) plans to expand The Marigold Hotel takes him to San Diego with Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) to meet with Ty Burley (David Strathairn) American hotel chain owner and possible investor in the Marigold Hotel’s expansion.  Burley said he will invest, but only after he sends and inspector to give him a report on the hotel and how it’s run.  Sonny also plans to marry Sunaina (Tina Desai) but his plans for marriage and entrepreneurship are tested by Sunaina’s friend Vishal (Shazad Latif) who flirts with Sunaina and plans to buy the hotel that Sonny plans to buy to expand his franchise. Sonny thinks that new guest Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) is the spy sent by Burley.  Guy falls for Sonny’s mom, Mrs. Kapoor (Lilette Dubey)

Meanwhile, Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) has been offered a fabric buyer’s job from a major clothing firm.  Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) is a tour guide in India and still hasn’t committed to Evelyn.  Will their burgeoning romance be interrupted by Douglas’ wife, Jean (Penelope Wilton) who’s back in India for a speech given by techie daughter Laura. (Claire Price)  Will Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) settle down with Carol Parr? (Diana Hardcastle) Which of her two suitors will Madge Hardcastle (Celia Immrie) choose?

This is a surprisingly good movie for a sequel, surprisingly funny, and emotionally engaging.  It didn’t pack the emotional punch of the first story, but the more serious storylines were surprisingly sensitive and well written.  There is more here for Indians or those interested in Indian culture, namely an Indian wedding, and a big Bollywood type song and dance number.  I’ve seen enough Bollywood movies to know that weddings are a big part of Indian culture.  Less successful was the romance between Guy and Mrs. Kapoor, Guy seemed like a playboy out for a quick fling, who didn’t really have and emotional attachment to Mrs. Kapoor.  Some of the tangential characters should have had less to do in the movie.

The acting was very good.  Dev Patel continues to surprise me with his performances.  He has surprisingly good comedic timing and can also handle the more serious moments.  Tina Desai is also good as Patel’s love interest handling the serious scenes with Patel well.  Judi Dench and Bill Nighy are wonderful as two people who are in love with each other but scared to death to make a commitment to each other.  The emotional center of the movie is Maggie Smith, who gives an exceptional performance as Sonny’s mentor.  She really holds the film together, and the film’s emotional tenor rises and falls with her.  Richard Gere doesn’t thrill me as an actor, and this performance did nothing to change that impression.  He struts around like a prize rooster, and expects everyone to swoon.  His wooden line readings made me queasy.

There wasn’t much to the direction, the song and dance number was well-shot, none of these seasoned actors need much direction, but the pacing does lag a bit at points, meaning the director could have left some of the film on the cutting room floor.

The Second Best Marigold Hotel: A few reservations, but a surprisingly well-built sequel.