Almanac Cinema – Movie Review: Lion
I haven’t cried that much since I was both hungry and needed my nappy many years ago.
Going to the movies for me is a chance to be entertained: to laugh, to cry or to be challenged in my thinking of the world.
Some movies are memorable for their scenery and message (e.g. The Mission), maybe their historical context (Apollo 13), even their philosophical challenge (Life of Pi), perhaps the way they challenge your values (The Light Between Oceans).
Lion will remain in my memory for all of the above and more.
Based on a true story, Lion follows the life of a young Saroo from the backblocks of an Indian town of Ganesh Thalai where, from my Western viewpoint, he helps his mother eke out a meagre existence carting rocks.
A series of fateful decisions follow after Saroo (brilliantly acted by Sunny Pawar) convinces his older brother to take him to work at night.
Saroo climbs aboard a disused train, falls asleep and cannot escape for two days as the train heads north and finally stops in Kolkata. Surrounded by the mass of humanity that the city is, but hopelessly alone due to a language barrier he faces danger, deception and an increasingly desperate life. Eventually he finds himself in an orphanage where a well-intentioned lady organises for his adoption to a couple in Tasmania.
Nicole Kidman and David Wenham are believable as 1980s parents in an upmarket part of Hobart. They provide the love and family that Saroo is missing.
The movie fast-forwards 20 years, the young adult Saroo excellently played by Dev Patel surely now destined for greater roles. Encouraged by friends to try to track down his village, Saroo becomes increasingly morose and remote from his family. His anguish increases as he searches for years with no success. Despair turns to joy as Google Earth delivers when he recognises a landmark near the station where he caught the train.
From when Saroo walks the streets of his old village to meeting his family again I am not ashamed to say that my hankie received a working over. I loved this movie, found it riveting.