“Lion” is an absorbing, heartwarming journey that follows one boy’s long adventure home after he is separated from his family.
Saroo Brierley is a 5-year-old growing up in Khandwa, India. He gets lost from his brother, Guduu, and ends up on a train bound for Calcutta, West Bengal, 1,600 km away. By the time he gets there, he has no idea where he is, doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t know how to get home. Complicating matters, it’s the mid-1980s and the internet doesn’t yet exist.
“Lion” treads touchy-feely waters, but first-time filmmaker Garth Davis never lets sentimentality take over. And he gets ace performances from his top-line cast, which includes Dev Patel as a grown-up Saroo (Sunny Pawar is excellent as the young Saroo), Rooney Mara as Saroo’s girlfriend and Nicole Kidman as his adoptive mother in Australia.
Saroo has a happy life Down Under with his loving parents, but he is deeply disturbed by thoughts of his biological family.
Are they out there, are they still looking for him? There are also issues with the advantages he’s been afforded, and after coming from dirt-poor beginnings, he questions whether he deserves the life he’s been given.
More than anything, he feels incomplete. But with the advent of Google Earth, he is able to begin putting the pieces of his past together, and “Lion” makes a compelling argument for the usefulness of the internet and the inter-connectivity of our modern world.
“Lion” is based on an incredible true story (it stems from Brierly’s 2014 book), and its themes are universal. Everyone has a home, and everyone feels connected to it, no matter how far they travel.
Rated PG-13: for thematic material and some sensuality
Running time: 120 minutes