Based on the memoir A Long Way Home, Lion is the heart-wrenching story of Saroo Brierley and his long search for home.
In 1987, when Saroo is just a young boy–so young that he does not even know the proper name of his village–living in central India with his mother, younger sister, and older brother, he ends up on the journey of a lifetime.
Saroo adores his older brother, and begs him to bring him along on his search for work. Guddu, being the loving brother that he is, begrudgingly agrees and together they board a train. But, of course, young Saroo quickly tires and once they reach their destination, he falls asleep on a bench where Guddu tells him to wait.
When he awakens, the train station is completely empty. Saroo gets up and looks for his brother, and eventually falls asleep once again on a train he was searching. Completely alone, trapped in a cargo train with no other signs of life, Saroo is forced to travel along with it, down the entire country.
He winds up in Calcutta, a thousand miles away where no one can understand his strange dialect, and takes to the streets with a group of other homeless children. He goes through many struggles, and at one point even narrowly avoids child trafficking, until he is sent to an orphanage, where he is adopted by a kind Australian couple.
He grows up with them in Tasmania–6,000 miles away–and the film skips to about 20 years later. Saroo is now taking business classes, and when he meets people there who are originally from India, it dredges up memories from his past. Though Saroo loves his life with his Australian family more than anything, he begins to wonder about his family in India–the one with whom he never even got to say his goodbyes; they don’t even know whether he is alive or not. Images of his grieving biological mother and brother begin to haunt him.
He rapidly becomes obsessed with this new program his friends inform him of–Google Earth–and researches everything he can to potentially create a search radius for his old village. He begins to recall landmarks he saw on his thousand-mile journey, and everyday, like a madman, he scours miles of Google Earth map for any sign of them. His obsession consumes him and pushes away/damages his relationships with everyone he loves.
Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel–who each play Saroo at different stages in his life–are my everything right now.
I’ve loved and followed Dev since his Skins days, and though this was my first time watching Sunny, he is absolutely adorable and immensely talented; I am thrilled to see what he does next!
Starring other well-known actors like Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara, this deeply-moving film brought me to tears more than once, and strongly affected me. I’m getting goosebumps just writing about it. The cinematography/editing is simply gorgeous and well-done. Both main actors do a phenomenal job playing Saroo, and the supporting actors do a brilliant job of being complex, lovable, and relatable.
My only complaint would have to be the romance college-age Saroo finds. As much as I love Rooney Mara and her work, I simply felt like her character was unnecessary. Their romance was cute at first, but honestly didn’t add much to the story.
When the film reveals the meaning behind its title, I got chills and teared up–I never expected it, and certainly never expected to cry from it.
Lion is definitely my favorite movie of 2017 so far, and I urge you to go watch it! 🙂