Lion (2016), Dir. Garth Davis

Lion (2016), Dir. Garth Davis
What if you do find home and they’re not even there? Then you just keep searching?
— Lucy, Lion (2016)

Stars: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Keshav Jadhav.
Director: Garth Davis
Screenplay: Luke Davies

It opens with a birds eye view of the landscape, of distant roads and tracks that lead across the screen, to show to beauty, the topography, the isolation of our setting. Its opening is so important not just to show us the beauty to to tell its story because the birds eye view is the only clue that will lead Saroo home.

Lion, directed by Garth Davis is far more linear than I had anticipated. Instead of telling its story from the present day it tells the harrowing story from point A to point B. It surprised me but I am so thankful that it is told this way. The first hour is set with little Saroo (Sunny Pawar) following his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) around, helping him with collecting coal and using it to buy milk to bring home. One evening Guddu is heading away for a week to find work a town over and Saroo insists that he can help him. Guddu goes to find the work and tells Saroo to stay put until he comes back, Saroo falls asleep to find no Guddu around, gets on a train to look for him, falls asleep then wakes up to find the train has left the platform behind.

The first hour is so special, watching this little 5 year old boy helplessly looking around to try and find his brother and mum who are 1600 kilometres away in a little village. Saroo can't speak Bengali, he has no money to try and buy a ticket home and more unfortunate things happen to him until a man takes him to an orphanage. From there he is adopted by an Australian Couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Then we follow Saroo (Dev Patel) try to track down his family's village by using Google Earth.

Davis has created a beautiful film which is full of heartache, guilt, desperation, and love. You feel this film, you feel the pain that this has caused to Saroo, his adopted parents, his girlfriend, and feel the pain of his family back home simply through the sorrow that takes place in Saroo's life in Australia.

I am so grateful for the casting in Lion, Sunny Pawar is so adorable and real on screen that you follow him across the screen desperately wanting to help him. And the pain that we see in Patel's eyes tell the story of his regret, his guilt, and sense of being lost for 25 years. It builds the emotions on top of each other through the feeling of days, then years, just feeling for that mother who has lost her son in the big unforgiving world. Kidman as Sue is so beautiful, Of all the characters I thought she would be the most stereotypical but she brought gravitas to her role, she become this strong woman who has been broken because her family is falling apart. You feel her love for Saroo and Mantosh (Divian Ladwa) in such a deep way as she stares out her window in that cold blue lit room.

This film pulls at the heart strings but in a way that feels deserved, it earned to do this to its audience by the pacing, reality, and faithfulness to these people.

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2