A plot that would seem unrealistic if it weren’t a true story, Lion weaves an extraordinary tale in which a young Indian boy becomes separated from his family only to be reunited with them 25 years later.
First-time feature director Garth Davis and screenwriter Luke Davies come together to do this amazing tale justice- although it might be difficult not to with the source material.
Based on the memoir, A Long Way Home, the film tells the story of Saroo Brierley, a five-year-old who wanders around with his brother Guddu, whom he idolises, while they attempt to supplement the family income in whatever way they can.
Their mother works as a labourer hauling rocks and there is no sign of a father, so life is difficult -but the formidable love they share defeats any hardship.
One night little Saroo (Sunny Pawar) convinces Guddu (Abhishek Bharateto) to bring him along to his nightshift but the two get split up at the train station.
Saroo climbs aboard a train to seek refuge only to wake up and find he is moving and is hundreds of miles from home.
He ends up in Kolkata and, unable to get back to his family, he must survive on the streets in a dangerous place where he doesn’t speak the language. After a few months he is taken into care and adopted by an Australian couple who fly him to Tasmania.
The story is about Saroo finding his way home 25 years later.
Lion is tremendously moving, strengthened by understated but powerful performances by Dev Patel, who stars as an older Saroo, Roony Mara, who plays Saroo’s girlfriend Lucy, and Nicole Kidman, his adoptive mother Sue.
The relationship between Patel’s character and Sue is convincing but somewhat overshadowed by the utterly honest and believable romance between Patel and Mara, who shines the brightest in this outing.
Sunny Pawar is exceptional in his first cinematic jaunt, and is complemented nicely by Bharate.
We are treated to some delicious shots of the rugged and beautiful landscapes in Tasmania and India by Australian Cinematographer Greig Frasier, who succeeds in depicting the good and bad of both countries through a lens.
Lion would have been a lot less affecting had it not been a true story, so incredible that is it. Saroo’s search begins with a flashback stirred up by a traditional Indian sweet at a dinner party. He finds his home on Google Earth.
The fact that these things actually happened is an unlifting gem in a cynical world. Bring tissues.