PLOT- Lion is the true story of Saroo Brierley (Sunny Pawar/ Dev Patel), who becomes separated from his family, when he accidentally boards a train heading to Calcutta, hundreds of miles from his home. Five year old Saroo, spends several months living on the streets, until he is caught by authorities and taken to a local orphanage. Saroo cannot tell officials where he is from and the orphanage is unable to locate his family. He is adopted by an Australian couple, John and Sue Brierley (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman) and soon Saroo becomes completely immersed in his new culture.
Fast forward twenty-five years: Saroo is moving to another city in Australia, to study hotel management. He falls in love with fellow student, Lucy (Rooney Mara) and the fragments of his life in India come back to haunt him. Specifically, the idea that his family never knew what happened to him, and that his older brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate), who had been looking after Saroo the evening he boarded the train, must be filled with guilt for losing his younger brother. Lucy suggests that new technology, like Google Earth, could help him locate his village and reconnect with his family.
LIKE- This being a true story, and seeing how many different lives were altered by Saroo's boarding the train, made Lion compelling from start to finish. The first half of the movie is almost exclusively about the young Saroo, his bond with his family in India, and his horrific separation from them. This isn't only the plight of Saroo, but Lion also highlights the desperate problem of children who go missing in India and live on the streets or in orphanages. A portion of the proceeds of Lion are going to a charity to help these children. The afterward explains how Saroo had learned the name of his village wrong, which was how they were not able to figure out where he was from. It didn't help that his family was incredibly poor with little means to search for him, and that his mother, a single-mother, was illiterate. In the afterward, we also learn that Saroo means Lion, a fitting name for both the title of the film, and this tough little boy.
Spending so much time on the young Saroo, watching how he adored his older brother. and how much his mother sacrificed and loved her kids, made the emotional punch deep. Another high impact emotional dynamic is between Saroo and his adoptive parents, whom he loves very much. He thinks that telling his parents that he is looking for his family in India, might be hurtful or seen as a betrayal. This situation is magnified by Mantosh (Keshav Jadhav/Divian Ladwa), a second child that the Breirley's have adopted from India. Mantosh comes to the Brierley home very troubled and self-destructive, behavior that continues into adulthood with his drug addiction. The Breirley's never give up on Mantosh, however it takes a huge toll on the family, and watching his parents repeatedly hurt by his brother's actions, angers Saroo. It makes him feel like he cannot burden them with his search and the depression that he is experiencing.
The story is incredible. There were only a handful of people in the cinema with me, but everyone was crying. A guy, who was young, probably early-twenties, sat on my row a few seats over, and he was loudly sobbing. Besides the story and great writing, the acting is fantastic, especially Pawar and Patel, as the child and adult Saroo. They each equally drive half of the film. Even when Kidman is on the screen, she is not outshining Pawar. Patel and Mara have great chemistry.
DISLIKE- Nothing. Lion will break your heart, but leave you feeling optimistic about good people and love in the world.
RECOMMEND- Yes!!! Lion is easily one of the best films of 2016. I loved the inventiveness of La La Land, but Lion has surpassed it as the one I'm rooting for during award season. Make sure to stay for the credits for pictures of the real life people Lion is based on, it will also give you time to clean up after all of the crying!