Lion (2016)

Director Garth Davis takes a beautiful story based on the novel ‘A Long way home’ and turns it into an extraordinary film which simmers slowly, to boil over your emotions and tears as it progresses.

Sunny Pawar, all of 8 years old (playing Saroo at age 5 in the film) is a confident yet unassuming talent, who pulls you into his world with his compelling eyes and indefatigable spirit. Little Saroo helps his brother Guddu so that they may provide some food on the plate. Poverty has been shown with dignity, unlike other Hollywood movies, so has the plight of the downtrodden. Saroo’s inadvertent journey takes him far from his village in a big bad city, where he is quick to escape from danger and senses what’s good or not for him. Kindness takes him to an orphanage and finally to Australia.

A grown Saroo, played effectively by Dev Patel seeks his roots, his home. But how would he find a remote village with an obscure memory of it ? His parents, played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham are such fine examples of how a father and mother should be. Nicole is caring, confident and is a patient mother while David is casual, strong and a supportive father.

The movie explores themes of family, belonging, parenting, siblings, love, and the bond between mother and child without poking you in the eyes. The emotions flow, muted and discreet, until the final frame, but you don’t feel distraught, rather a renewed belief in humanity ensues.

3.5/5

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Carol (2015)

Set in 1950s Manhattan, you quickly understand why this tender tough tale of unexpected love is so stifling yet endearing. It’s during Christmas that Carol and Terese meet, and their meek advances take the film forward.

The mood is captured in simple yet detailed ways. There is an air of taboo but nothing melodramatic. Cate Blanchett’s very breath and eye contact screams her caged sexuality, whilst Rooney Mara is the docile yet determined girl who is prepared to be spontaneous and take risks.

The film moves slowly so you can take in all the nuances. It seems, so to speak, a gateway into the era, and is appropriately paced. Fortunately they haven’t shown stereotypes and prejudices which would be so strong at that time, rather making it a reasoned situation which can be seen purely for what it is.

Director Todd Haynes has made a sensitive film with the grace and dignity it deserves. It gives you a sense of freedom and responsibility while you get enraptured by the story telling.

3.5/5

Her (2013)

Technology has invaded our space in an alarming way. It is supposed to make life easier, which it does, but also complicates it. I myself am guilty of being more in touch with my cell phone than with the company that surrounds me, so this subject is a warning of the times to come.

This film explores a society in the future where we have advanced technology to communicate, but have lost the art of communication. With all the tools at our disposal, we have forgotten how to reach and touch other people’s minds and hearts. People are lonely, relationships are fragile and we are swept in our own storm, where we have created a monster too powerful to tame.

Joaquin Phoenix writes beautiful letters for OTHER people as a living, because emotions have become a service one can pay for. A new operating system is on offer, which he buys. It calls itself ‘Samantha’, drawing on the memories and experiences of all people who have programmed it, but designed to become an ever evolving entity by itself. The voice is by Scarlett Johansson who never once makes you feel she is just a voice. She is present, in every way a person with a form would be.

How their relationship evolves, how complex the human mind and interaction becomes, what is the fate of Technology vs. Emotions, is explored in the most novel way, touching unique points of discussion never explored on screen. This is heavy duty writing, thought provoking and pushing the envelope of how helpless our society can become if not ‘humanised’.

Joaquin is our window into this world. He guides us effortlessly in the rising and falling waves of emotion experienced by him and the people he interacts with. Amy Adams is his friend who is on a similar journey and later becomes a mouth piece for his suppressed thoughts and feelings. The most warped and powerful scene involved a ‘surrogate’, something you will understand when you watch ‘her’.

Now the question is, why isn’t Scarlett Johannson nominated for any of the awards? Is it just because she was a formless voice? That would be true acknowledgement for her work which created such an impact.

3.5/5