Lion is the 9th and final Oscar Nominee for Best Picture that has now been reviewed by our blog. It is based on the book A Long Way Home. It is the debut feature from director Garth Davis, as well as the acting debut for Sunny Pawar. Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman also star and are Oscar nominated for their roles.
The film begins in India in 1986 where we meet Saroo. He is 5 years old and his living situation is very poor where the whole family needs to work to help provide the little they have. Saroo gets separated from his brother one day while they are working. He is only 5 and falls asleep on a train that takes him far from home to Calcutta. When he arrives he tries to find help but due to a language barrier no one knows the name of his village, Ginestlay. He survives on the streets with virtually no help and even escapes a few attempted kidnappings. Finally he ends up at an orphanage and is adopted off to a new family in Australia.
Sunny Pawar gives a great performance as a scared kid who instantly learn has to learn how to survive in this dire position he is in. I’m actually surprised more wasn’t made out of his performance during the awards season.
The film then introduces Dev Patel as the 20 years older version of Saroo. He now has a great life in Australia with his new parents. He goes to school for hotel management and meets his girlfriend Lucy, played by Rooney Mara. She helps him open up about his childhood and adoption and encourages him to search for his hometown using Google Earth. He becomes obsessed with his search and grows distant from Lucy and his family.
This is where Nicole Kidman has one great scene that probably earned her the nomination. She has a heart to heart conversation with Saroo about his search to find his hometown. She totally supports his efforts and explains to him how she was not infertile but wanted to adopt to help less fortunate children of the world. She does a good job with her limited screen time, but I am surprised it earned her a nomination. Dev Patel was good in it and I enjoy his work from Slumdog Millionaire and The Newsroom, though I don’t think he has a chance at an Oscar win this time.
Saroo finally finds the village, Ganesh Talai, on Google Earth seeing areas he remembered working, living, and playing in. He plans a trip and reunites with his mother. He comes to find out his brother died though on the night they got separated. Also, he had been mispronouncing his own name all along. It was really Sheru, which means Lion in Hindi.
I enjoyed Lion, it was kind of a wait for DVD for me based on the trailers, but once I was invested in the story it was a very emotional journey. Heart breaking, yet heartwarming with great performances that helped sell the ups and downs of the main character’s life. It was also beautifully shot by Grieg Fraser who also received a nomination for Cinematography. The film makes you put your own life into perspective as there are so many children in bad situations all over the world. Those themes hit home for me as a parent. Check out Lion, it’s a true story about an intriguing Journey with a happy ending.