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average rating is 3 out of 5


Rob Jones


Posted on:

Mar 2, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Davide Melini
Written by:
Davide Melini
Pedro Sánchez, Michael Segál, Tania Mercader

Lion wastes no time at all in revealing the premise of what we’re about to witness. A computer-generated establishing shot of an isolated chalet amongst some trees in a snow-covered forest is the first image we see, while a family in distress arguing is the first audio we hear. It’s clear that at the center of this family dynamic, there’s a man, presumably a father, who’s making life hell for the woman and child in his life. Being snowed in without any sign of neighbours probably isn’t much fun for any of them.


The snowy setting and the theme of a troubled father heading up a dysfunctional family straight away is reminiscent of The Shining, although it’s clear once the computer-generated scenery gives way to live action that this surely had to be far more creative with its budgetary constraints. To that end, it’s a real success. The style with which it’s shot, making use of small, claustrophobic settings and cleverly lit digital effects for the more fantastical elements of the story, is evident of a filmmaker who is well versed in making the most of the resources they have available. It’s no surprise that writer and director Davide Melini has been doing this for a while.


The strength of the narrative is how much Melini has been able to pack in. There is a sort of “tell all” moment where Lion tells us in no uncertain terms what it was trying to get at, but everything leading up to it is meaningful and carries great weight upon reflection. There are ambiguities that we never find any concrete answers for, but the beauty in how it’s written is that we don’t need any. We learn early on that the child of the family has a strong interest in lions, something that really appears to irk the man of the house. Perhaps this begins as a subtle nod towards a feeling of inadequacy in not being the alpha of the pride, but it morphs into so much more.

We’re left to decide what the symbology of the lion means to the two characters as we see it from both of their perspectives, each just as poignant as the other. What is a source of jealousy for one, is a comforter for the other.


For a film portraying a subject of such gravitas, it would have been nice to see something more substantial in terms of a runtime. Though it manages to pack an awful lot into its modest 12 minutes, there is a feeling that the narrative is rich enough to support anything up to a full feature film. That said, what we have is a short film that takes on the difficult task of representing such a heartbreaking theme through some huge ideas, and one that clearly hasn’t let anything get in its way to make it. It’s thoughtful, well-meaning, and impressive for all of those reasons.

About the Film Critic
Rob Jones
Rob Jones
Short Film
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