Written and Directed by Davide Melini
Duration: 11 minutes
In an isolated chalet out in the middle of a snowy forest, a little boy is beaten by his abusive parents for not the first time. His bad-tempered, alcoholic father seems to look for any excuse to beat him and whilst he struggles to sleep, clutching his favourite lion stuffed toy, he whispers how he wishes his little lion would protect him from another punishment.
In this beautiful, impressive short film LION from Davide Melini, we see a blend of fantasy and horror as a little boy’s prayers are granted in the most remarkable way.
Opening with an incredible galaxy shot introducing the credits before descending into the snowy forest really gives a grandness to the film – a much larger presence than Davide’s previous films that seem much more intimate on first glance. Though it wouldn’t have been intentional, this sort of relates to the accessibility of the short and how it affects everyone. It’s also little to no surprise that the short film has been a hit across the globe, garnering an eye-watering 126 awards and counting.
The film itself is quite touching and plays on your heart strings as little boy Leon is abused in his own home and there’s no feasible way that anyone could intervene or protect him with seemingly no neighbours for miles as they live in an isolated stretch of forest in the dead of winter. All alone, Leon has no one to turn to and seeks comfort in his plush lion toy. Clearly lion mad, his bedroom adorned with posters and figurines of lions, and all his positive energy seems to be projected towards these majestic creatures.
Downstairs, Leon’s drunken father Jeff, clutching a beer can in his stained white vest, seemingly looks for excuses to use his fists. His wife Amanda, possibly through fear, aids him in both his drunkenness and abusiveness towards their young son and in that respect is as bad as he is. It’s fairly easy to hate these horrible excuses for human beings and Michael Segal does a great job of being the obnoxious, violent father.
With the film called Lion and it featuring these incredible creatures, it won’t surprise that lions are a big part of this movie. The way in which the film involves them isn’t a huge surprise but a pleasant one and is executed remarkably with just the right amount of horror blended with fantasy. There are moments when your heart rate will increase with the character on-screen as you slowly watch a door creaking open, with the intensity and tension of the moment certainly transcending the screen. As the short film wraps, you’ll be sat warm in the knowledge of what transpired but at the same time well aware that this is merely fantasy and sobered by the harsh reality that abuse is life for many young people out there.
From this stunning film and those previously, Davide Melini has shown he has the skills to captivate audiences with his wonderful, fairytale-esque stories and I so wish that one day we may just see a feature length film from this artistic director.