Saturday, 28 January 2017

Best Supporting Actor 2016: Dev Patel in Lion

Dev Patel receive his first Oscar nomination for portraying Saroo Brierley in Lion.

Lion is a more than decent heart string tugger about the true story of an Indian boy who loses his family, though is adopted by an Australian family, but attempts to rediscover them many years later.

Dev Patel in the past has not been a favorite actor of mine, finding he has the tendency to be both over the top yet somehow bland at the same time. I will say though in 2016 I found his first halfway decent performance in The Man Who Knew Infinity, so I guess this is now the upswing in his acting. Dev Patel here once again plays the lead role of an Indian without a home, after doing the same in his breakout role in Slumdog Millionaire, luckily his performance here is much better. This is a lead performance, even more so than his turn in that earlier similair film, as we see the younger Saroo, played by Sunny Pawar for one half of the film, and then we shift to Patel for the rest of the film, he's not supporting anyone. With that out of the way though let's actually look at the performance itself. Dev Patel picks up with Saroo 20 years after his adoption by the Australians Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John (David Wenham) Brierley, and is essentially living his life rather well having become quite comfortable with his new found home and parents. 

I suppose it should be said that from now on Patel should only do Australian accent, wear his hair long, and keep his facial hair growing because of all it suits him very very well. I don't know if it had anything to do with any of that, but this easily his best performance. Now in his early scenes the film is pretty low key in just showing how Saroo's life is at this point. Patel has some very sweet and authentic chemistry with Wenham and especially Kidman. You really feel the love they share which is in no way compromised, and just have the genuine rapport of a real family. There is a complication though with his troubled adopted brother, Mantosh. Although on the whole I felt that character seemed like an underdeveloped aspect of the film, Patel though deserves credit for realizing the troubled past in Saroo's interactions Mantosh. Patel brings kind of this underlying understanding, suggesting their time together, yet still effectively brings the right current of frustrations in disapproving glances, and sharpened words towards him.

Saroo's life though is shown to be a relatively easy one as we continue to follow him including a romance with an American Lisa (Rooney Mara). The two have more than decent chemistry as well, to Patel's credit he has a low key charm in him, although I will say Rooney Mara never seems quite right in the role of a normal love interest. Saroo begins to run into more people from India though which reminds him of the family he lost, this sets him on a path to try to locate he where he was lost from. This creates a certain conflict as he begins to focus on the past which makes him forget about his future to an extent. This conflict is what defines Saroo during the later portion of the film, and Patel does a good job of realizing this in a natural way. Patel manages to internalize much of the pain of these thoughts in an intensity that grows within Saroo, which causes him to ignore and lash out at his loved ones to a degree. Patel makes these scenes feel honest by showing the way the unknown of his past is a burden he just cannot bear any longer. This is even satiated partially by his adoptive parents being fully supportive of his quest once they hear about it. Saroo though finally leaves to personally find them, after having located the approximate area on Google Earth. Saroo reaches there and is reunited with his mother. I have to say the scene got me, I'll admit it. Patel's work contributes greatly to the emotional resonance of the scene as he captures the joy upon seeing his mother, but also the heartbreak of it all particularly when he learns that his brother died long ago. It's a poignant heartfelt moment and Patel is there for every second of it. Patel is there for the whole half of his film though. This is a good leading turn by him in a fairly understated way. Patel though succeeds in never mistaking that for blandness, nor does he try, through unneeded quirks, to "liven things up". Patel does so well by simply giving an authentic and moving portrayal of a normal man recovering what was lost to him.

33 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: A pleasant surprise. :)

Onto the main event. :)

Calvin Law said...

Loved the ending, and glad you liked the film and Patel; I think the way it concludes is one of those endings that, you know, just gets you even if you didn't like the film.

Calvin Law said...

And who'd have thought he'd end up as #3 :)

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I think Shannon would've been 3rd before the re-watch, but as I've said, It's a pleasant surprise and I'm pleased to be proved wrong, because I want all actors to be good, even the shitty ones like Elgort.

Mike Hannigan said...

Louis: Your ranking of supporting actresses after watching Kidman.

Mine is:
1. Davis, 4.5
2. Kidman, 4
3. Williams, 4
4. Harris, 3.5
5. Spencer, 3

Luke Higham said...

and Kinnaman.

Anonymous said...

Well, looks like a bland actor has proven himself.

Anonymous said...

1. Bridges
2. Ali
3. Patel
4. Shannon
5. Hedges

Luke Higham said...

Annonymous:

3. Patel
4. Hedges
5. Shannon (Another viewing could put his rating down even further)

Anonymous said...

Luke: Oh, I see.
Louis: Your cast for a 1980's Nocturnal Animals, with Lynch as director.

Michael McCarthy said...

Totally agree with this rating, and you seem to have liked the film about as much as I did as well.

Mike Hannigan said...

Emmanuelle Riva RIP

Wonderful farewell in "Amour".

RatedRStar said...

I completely agree I thought the film was perfectly fine and Dev was certainly good Dev Patel does actually look good with long hair it has to be said lol.

RatedRStar said...

As Luke said...Onto the main event =D

Luke Higham said...

Louis & RatedRStar: I'm really looking forward to see which performance will be chosen for the DDL rating. I hope it's There Will Be Blood.

Luke Higham said...

Which would make sense to me, as it's Daniel Plainview. Daniel + Daniel.

94dfk1 said...

Onto the main event indeed, as I watched Manchester by the Sea last Sunday. Affleck's performance was the only I hadn't seen out of the nominees.

Calvin Law said...

94dfk1: What did you think? Of the film and Affleck.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Pawar - 4(A good performance as he manages just to give a very realistic depiction of this child going through such difficult circumstances. His performance really works well though given how little he says, yet Pawar is still able to convey so well all the fear and confusion as he tries to find his way. He is equally good though in portraying the slowly growing ease in the boy once he finds his new home.)

Kidman - 4(A truly supportive supporting performance. I thought she managed a very strong impact in her relatively limited screentime. She brings so much genuine warmth with her performance that you absolutely believe her love for both of her sons. Kidman however manages to find the nuance within the complications of such a relationship too. She's very good in the way she so wonderfully realizes her own strains while maintaining a general optimism all the same, showing that although the problems do effect her they never change her nature. I really loved what she with the role, so really I could go higher.)

Wenham - 3.5(He's given less to do than Kidman but I thought he also offered a moving and honest depiction of a good hearted person in his early scenes. Then later, even though he wasn't given too much focus, he did a credible job of portraying a more concerned father. I particularly liked his scene where he scolded Saroo after his treatment of Mantosh.)

Mara - 3(She's perfectly fine really and if someone else gave this performance I'd probably end it there. She just seems miscast though as just the standard love interest.)

Ladwa and Jadhav - 3(I actually thought both were very good at portraying the difficult state of Mantosh but the film just didn't seem to care.)

Mike:

1.Kidman
2.Davis
3.Williams
4.Harris
5.Spencer

Anonymous:

Edward/Tony: Kyle MacLachlan
Susan: Holly Hunter
Hutton: Alec Baldwin
Anne: Anne Bancroft
Bobby Andes: Harry Dean Stanton
Ray Marcus: Nicolas Cage
Lt. Graves: Jack Nance

Calvin Law said...

Eugh retroactive Nocturnal Animals? Ahhh.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Lynch might have made something out of Nocturnal Animals. Plus he would have given it a much weirder, fucked up ending for both stories.

Calvin Law said...

I'm gradually coming round to Nocturnal Animals having the worst ending of the decade so far. Ambiguous my ass, offensively misogynist more like.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Lynch's severe rewrite and direction would have made it great though.

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: I thought the movie was ok for what it was, but I don't really see what all the fuss is about. Lonnergan does have a good ear for dialogue and the flashbacks were well-done. This movie really relies on Affleck's performance and he is very capable in it. However, I wasn't a fan of a couple of the performances, particularly Williams in her "Oscar scene" and one of the kid's girlfriends. The musical score does get annoying at points where Lonnergan should've just frankly let the scenes play out by themselves. Not a bad film, but it won't make my final Top 10 for 2016. Broderick's appearance was also kind of distracting.

3.5/5 for the movie.

Affleck-4.5
Williams-2.5
Chandler-4
Hedges-3.5
Mol-3.5

Calvin Law said...

The reason I put Manchester by the Sea so high, despite its many flaws, is that I think its strengths really override them beautifully. Glad you at least took to Affleck.

Anonymous said...

What do you think is the best scene from each of the supporting actress nominees?

94dfk1 said...

Affleck: A very good subtle performance. He is superb in the more emotional scenes which I won't spoil, but I think you could figure out which ones I'm referring to should you see the movie. You can definitely sense what he's feeling at all times, particulary whenever he's just trying to figure out how he is going to be Patrick's guardian. Could be a 5 now that I think about it.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

It has many worst ofs I think. Like those jump scares which were such pathetic attempts to replicate Lynch's horror moments like the man behind Winkies.

Anonymous:

Kidman: Talking with Saroo just before he leaves to go to India

Davis: The final scene of the film.

Spencer: With Dunst in the bathroom.

Harris: Her final scene.

Williams: The scene.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: true. I mean, it could have been great in the right hands. And Bobby Andes is basically a budget version of Stanton in Wild at Heart, so yeah, I get your drift.

Calvin Law said...

That jump scare, eugh. You know what, I'll bump it down couple more spots tomorrow morning on my overall.

Mitchell Murray said...

A 4 for Patel - This is was unexpected but welcomed result.

So thats settled.. no Ruffalo for this year.

Anonymous said...

1. Mortensen
2. Affleck
3. Washington
4. Garfield
5. Gosling