REVIEW: Move over Simba, there’s a new “Lion” in town

Five year old Saroo is separated from his family when he is trapped on a train for days. (Courtesy of Lion Movie/Mark Rodgers)

By Bailey Mknelly, Staff–

“Lion” is the film adaptation of Saroo Brierley’s memoir A Long Way Home, which outlines his odyssey from his small village in India, to Australia, and back.

“Lion” deals with issues of family, racial identity, the repercussions of intense poverty, a search for home and will leave audiences wondering ‘Is Dev Patel hot?’

Although the overarching themes of the movie and the ultimate “hollywood” conclusion may sound as played out as the Fast and Furious franchise, the emotional performances, and inspirational storytelling will earn viewers interest and their tears.

Five years old Saroo (played by Sunny Pawar) is separated from his family when he is trapped in a train headed west across India.

Without knowing how far he has traveled and only able to speak Hindi, not the native Bengali of the area, he struggles to survive on his own in a strange city. Finally, he is placed in an orphanage and ultimately is adopted by an Australian family.

20 years later, Saroo (played by Dev Patel) has grown up in Australia and hardly identifies with his Indian heritage at all. It’s not an easy feet to dramatize a loss of cultural identity but Lion captures the subtlety of the erosive effect this can have on an individual.

When Saroo sees a jalebi, a sweet snack from his childhood, he has a flashback of his home and confides in a few of his friends that he was separated from his biological family. They suggest he uses the newly invented Google Earth to aid him in his search for home.

25 years later Saroo makes his way home. (Courtesy of Lion Movie/Mark Rodgers)

Director Garth Davis and writer Luke Davies masterfully maneuver the delicate production of screen on screen filming, a big no-no in the industry. Somehow exploring the use of the website as a beneficial tool without making its presence a distraction.

Some aspects still seem unbelievable, despite its nonfiction origin; for a little boy who couldn’t pronounce words he had an incredible sense of direction and he is suddenly able to remember the exact location of his house.  

The movie illustrates the hardships of children all across India as Saroo witnesses the abduction of children on the streets, the sex trafficking he is almost sold into, the abuse he witnesses at the orphanage and through Saroos own brother, who has difficulty adjusting to his new life and suffers from fits of rage, self harm and drug abuse. The movie ends with a request to visit in order to donate to help the serve the over 80,000 children missing in India each year.

Lion is a movie whose job it is to tug on heartstrings and win awards and so far it’s been doing it well.

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