Gordon and I watched Lion and Moonlight yesterday. Lion is the story of a 5-yr-old Indian boy who fell asleep on a cargo train and was carried away to Calcutta, 1200 miles away. He didn’t know the name of the town he came from or even his mother’s name; she was just Mum. He gets chased by child slavers and eventually ends up in an orphanage that’s so awful it make a Dickens book look benign. Eventually, he gets adopted by a Tasmanian couple and has a solid middle-class Australian childhood. He doesn’t start thinking about his past until he goes to college and meets actual Indians. He can’t even tell them where he came from so they explain to him that there’s a new thing called Google Earth. He starts checking out sites, looking for a specific water tower next to a river, his only memory. I won’t go into detail but there’s a happy ending. I enjoyed the movie but it wasn’t perfect. All these side plots surfaced–new girlfriend, Aussie mom’s difficulties and resolutions, head-banging adopted brother–but none of them is really explored. I enjoyed Dev Patel’s performance. That gangly kid from Slum Dog Millionaire has grown up to be a handsome man. Nicole Kidman gives depth to a thankless part. They tried to ugly her up with period wigs but she’s still gorgeous. She’s aging gracefully. Oh, and the title is explained at the very end of the movie.
I don’t know what to say about Moonlight. I know the foreign press think it’s the greatest movie of the year but I thought it was horrifying–sort of on the line of Precious. The performances were commanding but I feel like I was wallowing in the Lower Depths–and Gorky got there first. The only positive influence in the young protagonist’s life is the local drug dealer. The kid is beaten and vilified all through his childhood until he’s sent…. well, I won’t spoil anything. The moonlight shining on the sea proves that there’s beauty in the world, just not among people. If you want to watch the gritty realism of junkies, drug dealers, and cruelty you’ll, I won’t say enjoy, maybe edified is a better word, this film. I’m going to watch a Disney movie.