7:30 PM, 17th March, 2017
Lion is a true story of loss, love and hope, confidently told. Saroo, a five-year-old boy, is separated from his family and lost in India. He must survive and, after facing many horrors, is adopted by an Australian couple. 25 years later, he begins the journey to find himself in what has been lost.
Deservedly Dev Patel has received critical acclaim for his role as the adult Saroo, sensitively delving into the pain of being torn between homes and lives. Nicole Kidman is outstanding and David Wenham and Rooney Mara are way more than competent. I hope recognition is given to the child actor, Sunny Pawar, who steals the first half of the movie as a sweet innocent Saroo confronted by so much danger.
An emotional journey of pain, adoption and the journey home, the movie is inspiringly told. There are sweeping cinematic shots and an epic soundtrack. Many of its themes are obvious but worthy: lost children and survival; overseas adoption; the parental bond; and the need of all of us to discover our identity. Certainly the themes of home and identity are raised to a profound and inspiring level. But, like a good wine, you can drink on Lion to your heart’s content without cloying on it. You will shed a tear.
9:38 PM, 17th March, 2017
In my opinion, I, Daniel Blake is one of the best movies of 2016 (tied with Hell or High Water). It also won director Ken Loach the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. Loach, who has social issues at the forefront of his films, shines a light on the British social services bureaucracy, including its Job Centre and staff; and it’s a very dim light.
Comedian Dave Johns plays Blake, a 59-year-old tradesman recuperating after a heart attack. Told by his doctors to rest, he is given contrary orders by our Centrelink equivalent. He is assessed as being ready to work after completing the mandatory eligibility test for the sickness benefit, and not qualifying.
Widower Blake meets Katie (Squires) at the Job Centre who, with her two children, is a solo mother and new to the Newcastle area. Together they navigate various parts of the system and their individual circumstances; from job hunting, navigating mainly online assistance, the food bank, appeals, to acquiring extra cash to keep afloat.
The scenes with a dodgy, low-paid-but-caring young neighbour intertwine both generations in warm camaraderie, especially when tables are turned. The ending adds pathos to our characters’ situation. It reminded me of another British film, Still Life. This is faster paced, but still similarly poignant and contemplative about these men and their lives.