Lion’s undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical clichés of its genre.’ , said one critic and he could not have been more correct. Directed by Garth Davis, the film is based on a non-fiction book, “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose. Starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman, the film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2016.
Garth Davis, a first-time feature director delivers a confident debut. Five-year-old Saroo(Sunny Pawar) gets lost on a train which takes him away from his home and family in Khandwa in rural Madhya Pradesh, to Calcutta.
In this new city, he must learn to survive alone. Miles away from home braving human traffickers and child predators, he eventually gets adopted by an Australian couple, Sue(Nicole Kidman) and Brierley(David Wenham). Twenty-five years later, armed with a handful of memories and a revolutionary technology called Google Earth he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home. This six Oscar-nominated feature film is a gut-wrenching true story that tugs at one’s heartstrings.
After Saroo settles down with his new family in Tasmania, the film jumps twenty years forward and Dev Patel takes over as Saroo, reassuring the audience that the worst is truly over. The film floats in and out of an almost dreamlike state. To balance the grimness of Saroo’s life, especially when he is lost in Calcutta, Davis adds a touch of magic realism.
The film is an absolute tear-jerker, not because a mere child is lost in the big bad world but because we can do nothing to help him. The poverty that we see every day and choose to ignore, is no dream. The dirt smeared faces that sleep at railway stations or knocks at the windows of our cars, is no dream and yet they haunt us, even though their impact rarely elicits anything more than sympathy. These are not very pleasant thoughts and “Lion” is not a pleasant film, however cathartic that ending may be.
“We swan about in our privileged lives…it makes me sick!”, spluttered a frustrated Saroo to his girlfriend Lucy. While Ronney Mera has a limited function as Saroo’s girlfriend, Kidman’s sterling, supportive performance enriches the film.
The script never lunges for cheap drama by forcing Saroo into a binary choice between two mothers. Kidman’s Sue has her own story to tell-She can embarrass her son with pride and love but at the same time, she is also a fascinatingly stained figure, barely keeping her grip. “Lion” will certainly be remembered forever as a watershed in Dev Patel’s career.
Nicole Kidman is as consistently good in “Lion” as she has ever been in recent years. In a scene in which her character explains to Saroo why she chose not to have children of her own, she brings a lump to the throat.
Inescapably moving without exaggeration, it’s quite a film review for director Garth Davis, best known for his collaboration with Jane Champion on “Top Of The Lake”. With controlled intensity, “Lion” mirrors the anguish of separation, loss of home and blurring of identity while celebrating the regenerative power of a mother’s love and exploring the notion of adoption in a nation that has 30 million orphans.
“Lion” isn’t a thunderous roar. Rather, it’s a soulful, reassuring purr that reverberates gently into the recesses of the heart, curls up into a cozy place and works its subtle magic.
In one word, magnificent