Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Sunny Pawar
Running Time: 1hr 58min
Five-year-old Saroo lives with his brother Guddu, his sister, and his mother in the village of Ganesh Talai, in Khandwa, India. One night in 1986, while joining his brother for work, Saroo is separated from Guddu at a train station after falling asleep. Confused that his brother has not returned, he boards a train and sleeps in one of the carriages and wakes up while the train is moving. After a couple of days, Saroo finds himself in Calcutta, where they speak a different dialect, and he struggles to communicate with people. He is forced to spend the night in a station with homeless kids but is forced to flee when men try to kidnap them.
Wandering the wilderness, he is befriended by a woman named Soor, who lets him stay at her apartment. After discovering sinister intentions on her part, he runs away and is living under the Howrah Bridge, when a man takes him to the police station. They can’t trace his family, so they put him in an orphanage where he starts to learn English and is eventually adopted by an Australian family and move to Tasmania in 1987 to live with them. They also adopt another boy a year later, who suffers from behavioral problems.
Twenty years later, Saroo, now a student, attends a dinner party with friends, where they serve food that reminds him of his childhood. He confides in them, and girlfriend Lucy about what happened to him, and they suggest he tries to use Google Earth to find his home. After some fruitless attempts, he drifts apart from Lucy, and the two break up. His search also puts a strain on his relationship with his family.
One evening, in desperation, he scans Google Earth and finds a rock formation he remembers. From there he manages to track the neighborhood where he lived and realizes he’d been saying the name wrong all along. After telling his adoptive family about the search, they support him, and he travels back to Ganesh Talai, having an emotional reunion with his mother and sister after finding out his brother has died the night he disappeared. The movie ends with footage of the real Saroo reuniting with his mother.
Aw, man, this is a definite tear-jerker this one. Lion is actually a biographical movie, which makes it even more heart-wrenching. We all have a family, and we all know that the Wizard of Oz mantra is true, there really is no place like home. So, imagine being in Saroo’s shoes, and being torn away from your home as a five-year-old child. Having to negotiate a foreign and dangerous land alone, and longing for the warm embrace of home and family.
Adapted from the autobiographical account by Saroo Brierley called ‘A Long Way Home,’ Lion is an absolutely masterful film. The pacing, direction, and acting are all stellar, and you are living every moment along with Saroo. It also showcases the difficulties of searching for long lost family in the earlier days of social media and the internet boom. You’re rooting for Saroo every step of the way, and the climax, while bittersweet, is still one of the most moving scenes in modern cinema.
This moving and uplifting journey is elevated by a wonderful performance from Dev Patel, and a great supporting turn from Nicole Kidman. This is the sort of movie the whole family can enjoy, and one that will most certainly have you sobbing your eyes out by the end. The unsparing realism of Lion is what makes it such a touching tale. It is wonderfully shot, and visually stunning, and this complements the journey Saroo takes throughout the movie. One thing we can promise you is, you’re going to need a box of tissues with you for this one!