Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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My Review of THE UPSIDE

The Upside, rated PG-13
*** ½

The Upside is an enjoyable film based on a true story about the friendship between two men, one in a wheelchair and the other his caregiver. The film is directed by Neil Burger (Divergent, The Illusionist). The screenplay is written by Jon Hartmere based on the 2011 French film Les Intouchables directed by Eric Toldedano and Olivier Nakache. The film features a strong cast, including an Oscar winner and an Oscar nominee and was shot in Philadelphia.The film is set in New York City. Dell, played by Kevin Hart (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), is an African American, street smart, ex-con. He has been kicked out of his apartment after failing to provide for his ex-girlfriend Latrice, played by Aja Naomi King (The Birth of a Nation), and their teenage son. He has all but given up hope in finding a job. Continue reading

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My Review of Lion

lionLion, rated PG-13

Lion is an emotional, visually stunning depiction of a true story. Don’t miss it on the big screen!

This low-budget film ($12 million) is directed by Garth Davis in his debut as director of a feature film.  It is written by Saroo Brierley, adapted from his memoir A Long Way Home, the true story of his own search for his childhood home. The film was originally going to have the same title as the book on which it is based.

The screenplay is by Luke Davies. The film has received six Oscar nominations – for best picture, supporting actor (Dev Patel), supporting actress (Nicole Kidman), writing, adapted screenplay (Luke Davies), original score and cinematography.

The story is told in two parts and in India and Australia, beginning in 1986. Five year-old Saroo is portrayed in an incredible performance by Sunny Pawar. He and his brother Guddo (Abhishek Bharate) are two poor boys growing up in rural India who support their family by stealing coal which they use to buy milk, and scavenging trains in their West Bengal village. One night they become separated, with Saroo finding himself alone on a train heading to Calcutta, a thousand miles from home. We feel the desperation, fear and loneliness of this five year-old boy who is lost in a country of over a billion people.

For the remainder of the film Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) portrays Saroo. Eventually Saroo is placed in a very crowded orphanage, and then adopted by two Australians, Sue Brierley played by Oscar winner (The Hours) Nicole Kidman, and husband John, played by David Wenham. Kidman was handpicked by the real-life Sue Bierley for her part. It is Kidman’s first on-screen role as a mother of an adopted child. In real life she’s the mother of two adopted children. The couple would later adopt another son, Mantosh (Divian Ladwa), who had emotional and later substance abuse problems. The film doesn’t say that the Bierleys were Christians, however they did demonstrate Christian love to the boys and Sue mentions that she has been blessed by the boys.

When Saroo is in his 20’s, he begins to have flashbacks of his native land and he becomes obsessed with finding his family (mom, brother and younger sister).

This film explores some great themes such as identity, family, adoption, and origin. It is beautifully filmed, with a powerful music score, and is an emotional experience. It contains superb acting from just about every major character in the film (Pawar, Patel, Kidman, Wenham and two-time Oscar nominee Rooney Mara, who portrays Lucy, not a single real-life character but a compilation of several of Saroo’s real-life girlfriends).

In India, over 80,000 children go missing each year and there are over 11 million children living on the streets. For how to help, go here.