This one’ll get ya – right in the feels.
Titled Lion, though you won’t know why until the very end, Director Garth Davis’ latest is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley (played by both Dev Patel and newcomer Sunny Pawar) who, separated from his brother in India as a child after falling asleep on a train, is later adopted by Tasmanian couple Sue and John (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham).
Following the advent of Google Maps, Saroo reasons that he can chart his two days lost on the train, and maybe find his way home.
The events that unfold and the ending will not come as a surprise to anyone who remembers the story when it broke some years ago or has any idea how Hollywood flicks about children flung far from home typically end. As with all stories like this, it’s about the journey, and the moving moments, of which there are many, heralded by Dev Patel in one of his best performances to date. Following a hodgepodge of Hollywood flicks and a supporting role in Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, Patel here more than earns his star billing as the now grown-up Saroo longing for closure and, rarely seen, commands one of the most convincing Australian accents by an actor who isn’t Kate Winslet.
While Wenham doesn’t have much to say or do, Kidman anchors the emotional edge of the film through her interplay with Patel, struggling with raising her family and the pasts of her adopted offspring. Despite one misjudged speech by Kidman in the latter half of the film centring on her desire to raise children from an early age, one look by Kidman says more than any of the strained dialogue heaped upon Rooney Mara (Lucy, Saroo’s partner), who ostensibly was meant to provide much of the emotional pull better evidenced by Kidman’s performance.
Opening with a lengthy refrain from any English-language dialogue, it’s a welcome change in a mainstream studio-backed picture which goes a long way to better situate us in Saroo’s childhood environment, even if we are granted only a glimpse of it. The narrative more than carried by Patel, the wise decision to not have any ham-handed montage with Saroo ruffling through papers or slowly crossing things off his Google Earth search list makes for a much stronger picture, with Davis instead patiently chronicling Saroo’s anguish over the months and years of his search.
A great flick for any and all, while Lion is not unpredictable, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.
Lion is in cinemas now