A true story of family separation and love. An extremely talented and adorable kid. Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel starring. What more could you want in a film? Lion (Garth Davis) has all of this and more, and that’s before mentioning the Oscar buzz.
It’s that time of year again, when there are too many must-watch films being released for award season, and too little time to watch them all. However, there are always a few that stand out and have to be pushed to the top of your list. This is one of them.
The story is a heart-warming one that is based on truth. We’re first introduced to a family living in the slums of India, consisting of a mother, two sons and the youngest of the lot, a daughter. When the older son, Guddu takes the younger son, Saroo to work with him one night, Saroo falls asleep on a bench. When he awakens, there is no one around and he cannot find his brother. He tries looking for him on a non-moving train. However, as the train leaves the station, Saroo is still on it, and so his journey begins. Suddenly a small five-year-old boy is on a train headed somewhere unknown. After months of being lost in a strange place far away from home, he is put in what can only be described as a prison for children, posing as an orphanage.
Although this place seems horrid, cruel, nasty, unfair and unjust, some happiness comes out of it. A couple in Australia, Sue and John Brierley, played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham decide they’d like to adopt him, and this is where Saroo’s new story begins.
This film is the perfect example of the cliché saying: “Emotional rollercoaster”. The first twenty minutes of the film are dedicated to showing how Saroo’s journey took him from the slums in India to a family home in Australia. Sadness for the lost little boy, anger towards people refusing to help him, and happiness that he may have another family are just three of the emotions you feel while watching the first part of this movie.
When the film skips twenty years, we’re introduced to Saroo as an adult, played by Dev Patel. He has another adopted brother from India, Mantosh, played by Divian Ladwa. However, it is very quickly made obvious to us that these two characters had taken to their new family very differently. Saroo is an ambitious and happy young man, while Mantosh is a mentally ill recluse. The contrast, hatred and love between these two are at times heart-breaking. This is only made more intense by the chemistry these two actors have when sharing scenes, so much so that it would have been interesting to see even more of their story together.
The other character that becomes infectious to watch is Sue, Saroo’s adopted mother. We’ve come to expect superb acting from Nicole Kidman by now, but the most impressive part about her is that she never ceases to get your eyes watering. Her pain of being a mother to such troubled children is made clear, but her good intentions she had for them, and the way she embraces both of them for who they are, is truly inspiring. Her love for the boys seeps through every scene she shares with Saroo and Mantosh.
However, we can’t talk about the acting in this movie without gushing over the youngest of the main cast, Sunny Pawar, who plays a young Saroo. His huge brown eyes and small frame make it impossible for you to not have your eyes glued to the screen every single minute he’s on. However, his cuteness isn’t the only commendable attribute he lends to the film. His acting is so powerful, you will be welling up, smiling with glee, and at times, laughing, at his incredible portrayal of this brave boy.
It’s easy to look at the trailer for this film and assume you’ve seen it all before, but the real essence of the story is the truth behind it. Thankfully, this isn’t forgotten, and just as you think you’re safe to put your tissues away, there are some wonderful scenes showing the real people that inspired the film. Although this movie may not have the same expectations as La La Land or Manchester by the Sea, don’t let that put you off. The story is one you will remember forever, and for that reason, it’s a must-see.
Lion is showing in Nottingham cinemas now.