Lion is a heartbreaking and beautifully shot tale of family, struggle, and the force of children. Directed by Garth Davies and based on Saroo Brierley’s autobiographical novel A Long Way Home, this tender and tragic film recounts a true story of loss, reunion, and the search of one’s own home.
At the age of five, Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets lost and unwillingly boards a train to Calcutta, the beginning of a troubled journey that will make him face the dangers of big Indian cities, lone survival in the big world, life in an orphanage, and ultimately adoption by an Australian couple. 25 years later – now considered an Aussie by all standards, but obsessed by the thought of his mother and brother still looking for him – Saroo (Dav Patel) sets out to find his family.
In the line of films like Slumdog Millionaire (in which Patel also stars as the main character), the fate of the innumerable Indian children who survive on the streets is strikingly real and frightening in the first part of the film. Lion is certainly a spotlight on a personal story but is told in a way that reminds the viewer that this is by no means a single case.
With absolutely brilliant cinematography by Greig Fraser, stunning overhead views of both Central India and Tasmania pair up with bold, alluring camera solutions in many a frame, composing not only a touching story, but also a visually enthralling film. Stylishly shot, definitely, but that is not to say with any pretentiousness of sprucing up misery for the sake of onscreen symmetry. A contrast between the Indians slums and the privileged life in modern Australia is certainly present, although quite under-spoken – probably a choice voluntarily respecting the double “home” of Brierley.
While Nicole Kidman’s name features big and bold on posters – her performance is nothing short of honourable – and Dev Patel confirms himself a talented star, the real show is undoubtedly stolen by the child actors, especially Pawar in the role of 5-year-old Saroo. A spirited, heart-rending performance, little Pawar’s interpretation is definitely one of the most unforgettable parts of the movie.
A rollercoaster of emotions, Davies’s film is the kind to cause tears of both pain and joy. Honest, as is the true story of Saroo Brierley.
Lion does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer of Lion here: