Director: Gilles de Maistre
Cast: Daniah De Villiers, Mélanie Laurent, Langley Kirkwood, Ryan Mac Lennan
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 27 December 2018
Synopsis: Ten year old Mia has her life turned upside down when her family decides to leave London to manage a lion farm in Africa. When a beautiful white lion, Charlie, is born, Mia finds happiness once again and develops a special bond with the growing cub. When Charlie reaches three, Mia’s life is rocked once again as she uncovers an upsetting secret kept hidden by her father. Distraught by the thought that Charlie could be in harm, Mia decides to run away with him. The two friends set out on an incredible journey across the South African savanna in search of another land where Charlie can live out his life in freedom.
Man vs The King of the Jungle. Is it possible for them to be friends? Or would natural instincts take over the better of them?
In Mia and the White Lion, it is possible! The film follows the journey of a young girl, who was taken away from her home in London and forced to find her place in South Africa, where her family has a conservation area for wildlife. She only starts to really settle down when she befriends Charlie, a white lion cub and becomes so attached to it. Upon finding out the truth about the lions being bred for the purpose of trophy hunters, Mia then decides to save Charlie from his fate.
What could have been an inspiring and magical film is being marred by multiple inconsistency and filming issues.
The flow of the film, especially during the first half, was extremely excruciating, as one not only needs to comprehend the eccentricity of the pacing of the film, but needs to be on the edge, worrying about the welfare of the cast with all the wildlife.
With the lack of proper transition, the relationship between Mia and Charlie seems extremely weird, moving from Mia having a strong disinterest in Charlie to a sudden affection and unbreakable that came out of nowhere.
The constant portrayal of Mia’s defiance towards her parents and her multiple attempts to prove Charlie’s tameness and ability to behave sadly becomes a constant drag that makes Mia look like some deluded child that cannot let go and as much as we want to sympathise with Mia and her struggles and desire to ‘make the world a better place’ (possibly the desire of the director), one cannot help but generally sympathise with the parents for trying so hard to control their kid.
The film’s saving grace might be the second half and the ending of the film, as Mia’s attempt to set Charlie free from the danger that he would face is humorous, yet uplifting and motivating. The setting of the film, alongside random characters, brought a bit of life to the film and made it intriguing and interesting. The process of the whole filming is also commendable.
Eventually, Mia and the White Lion, although fiction, is a sickening reality that we sadly are unaware of and need to address to stop an ongoing terrible trade.
While the intention to bring awareness to the public on the horrible legal industry of grooming tamed lions as hunting baits for leisure (and putting a stop to it), alongside the amount of effort placed in the filming process is definitely commendable, sadly the erratic and jumpy transitions of the relationship of Mia and Charlie and her family made this film a challenging one to digest and comprehend and this messes up the process and ability of the film to become what it should have been; a great inspiring and moving film, educating people about the reality of the lion trade in South Africa.
(A film that had the potential to influence but lack proper execution. Save this for the weekday. For families with children above 10 years old)
Review by Ron Tan