Lion received a lot of acclaim and praise this last film awards cycle. It is a film adaptation of the non-fiction book A Long Way Home written by Saroo Brierley.
The book details Saroo’s own experiences of getting separated from his family after mistakenly boarding a train headed to Calcutta as a child. He ends up lost and unable to return to his family, and is ultimately adopted by a couple from Tasmania. After he’s grown up, Saroo uses Google Earth to find his home town, where he returns to see his mother.
The story is incredibly heart-wrenching and heart-warming at the same time. It is miraculous that Saroo was able to find his family again after all those years, especially with such minimal information/memories to go off of. The main musical theme was pretty fantastic, too.
I had mixed feelings about the movie though. The first half of the movie was very well filmed, acted, and directed. Sunny Pawar, the child actor who played the young Saroo, was really impressive and incredibly adorable. However, I lost my confidence in the movie in the second half. The supporting characters felt under-developed despite having a really good cast (Nicole Kidman as Saroo’s adoptive mother Sue and Rooney Mara as Saroo’s girlfriend Lucy). I also couldn’t buy into Dev Patel’s portrayal of Saroo. I’ve seen and enjoyed his performances in Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and HBO’s The Newsroom. I might be overstepping here, but I think this was probably his first really big, emotionally complex role. With that in mind, I think he did a decent job in his portrayal. Nevertheless, sometimes his acting felt too dramatic and artificial, for lack of a better way to explain it. In any case, I’m curious to see what he does next and how he grows as an actor.
With all that being said, I was in tears during the final reunion anyway. All the emotional turmoil and tension had been building up to that one scene, where Saroo finally receives closure. Overall, I’d probably give the movie a 7.5/10, mainly because the music, cinematography, and storyline were compelling, even if Patel’s acting left something to be desired.