‘Lion’ is based on Saroo Brierly’s memoir ‘A Long Way Home’, and is a story of the heartbreaking reality that over 80,000 missing children in India face each year.
With an outstanding performance by Sunny Pawar, who plays young Saroo, ‘Lion’ showcases a diverse and talented cast, which includes the familiar faces of Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, and Rooney Mara.
The film is atmospheric, and the cinematography lends poignancy even to the tranquil period of the film’s opening.
Saroo and his older brother Guddu (Abishek Bharate) spend their days riding the trains, stealing coal to sell and help their mother, who works carrying rocks, to feed their family of five. One evening, when Guddu is going to find work at the station, Saroo begs him to take him with him. When they arrive, Guddu tells his brother to sleep on the bench until he comes back.
The station is deserted when Saroo wakes, save for an empty train. Saroo checks for Guddu, carriage by carriage, but soon falls asleep, waking as the train cuts its way through the dark middle of India, his village left many hours ago in the grey dawn.
Lost and without family, Saroo is picked up from the streets, eventually adopted by an Australian couple. He moves to Tasmania, his Hindi disappearing, replaced quickly by English. A loss—and rejection—of culture and language permeate his adolescent years.
It is when he begins university that he is prompted to trace his past: a friend suggests following the train tracks to his village using Google Maps to find his hometown, and so his second journey begins.
‘Lion’ is a powerfully emotive film about home and family, endurance and loss. Not to be missed in the New Year.
Director: Garth Davis
Screenplay: Luke Davies (based on the book ‘A Long Way Home’ by Saroo Brierly)
Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Abishek Bharate, Priyanka Bose
Country: Australia, UK, USA
Language: Hindi (English subtitles), English