Imagine a scenario where you grew up with a loving family, and you were headed into a stable career with the love of good partner.
But then you remembered you were lost, and in fact, adopted.
Cast: Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Bharate, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, Divian Ladwa, Rooney Mara
Director: Garth Davis
re-released on blu-ray April 11, 2017
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Audience Score 92%
The Guardian: ****/*****
Garth Davis is an Australian director, best known for directing television before his feature film debut with Lion. It was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, but unfortunately didn’t take anything home. Which is odd, because it’s a really good movie.
Spanning a period of over twenty five years, we learn the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian boy who became lost in Calcutta, lived on the streets briefly, and was taken to an orphange before being adopted by an Australian family. At once immersive and incredible, Lion is the movie I wish I’d seen in theatres instead of John Wick Chapter 2.
Special thanks to Claudio Carvalho, for the plot summary below.
In 1986, in Khandwa, India, the 5 year-old boy Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives a very poor but happy life with his mother Kamla (Priyanka Bose), his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) and his younger sister Shekila (Khushi Solanki). Kamla works carrying stones during the night shift and Guddu also works in the night in the Central Station. One night, Saroo insists on going with Guddu to his work, who does not resist. Guddu leaves Saroo sleeping on a bank in the station and asks him to stay there until he returns. However the boy wakes up in the middle of the night and decides to seek out his brother in a train. He sleeps again and he wakes up in Calcutta, West Bengal, and 1,600 km east of Khandwa. Saroo does not speak Bengali, only Hindi, and lives on the street of the big city. One day, a young man brings Saroo to the police station and he is sent of an institution for children. In 1987, Saroo is adopted by the Australian family of John (David Wenham) and Sue Brierley (Nicole Kidman) and moves to Hobart, Tasmania. He is raised with love by his foster parents and one day, he goes to an Indian party promoted by his Indian mates from the university with his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara). As he tells the story of his childhood it triggers the feeling of missing his family and awakens a search within him…
I kept hearing this movie compared to an odyssey, and while I wondered how it could possibly achieve that status, after I was done with Lion I wondered if it could be called anything less. This is a true story of an Indian boy who was able to locate his family decades later through the use of Google Maps. Combining elements of drama, thriller, and mystery to weave this biopic, first-time director Davis is able to draw us into Saroo’s journey and hold our attention easily.
Pros: Both Saroo the child and Saroo the adult are portrayed deftly and with charisma. And you never feel like you’re watching a ham-fisted nostalgia spectacle, the drama is real.
Cons: While it isn’t ham-fisted, there isn’t much there in the way to details to consider or implications to uncover. The relationship with brother Mantosh is sidelined too.
Runtime: 1 hour 58 minutes
Points of Interest: Over 80,000 Indian children go missing each year. #LionHeart foundation was launched by this films production companies to provide financial support to the over 11 million children who live on the streets of India.
That GPS and digital technology were able to bring Saroo back to his family is an incredible thing, and it should be celebrated as an effort of persistence that he made sense of his incredible childhood misadventure. A story of a lifetime with an excellent supporting cast, led by the talented Sunny Pawar, Lion has the heart of one.
Should you go see this movie? No, because it’s not in theatres anymore. But you should pick up a copy of it or find a digital download service and spend some time with Saroo, or should I say Sheru?