‘Lion’ is one of those true stories that actually feel like it might illuminate an audience. It’s not that we don’t know the hardships of countries like India, but this movie depicts them with a vividness that only the movies can do. And the fact that this situation feels like a complete product of poverty brings it home with clarity.
The most wonderful thing about this movie is that there are no speeches about the difficulty of life in India or the crowded speeches. You just watch what happens and it should be clear to anyone why something like this could happen. I’d like to say it’s a tale that could happen anywhere, but it’s quite difficult to imagine. This is a poverty problem and only jobs and human rights laws can stop it.
The first half of the tale is the most important. We watch a young boy named Saroo exist in his environment and how much he loves his family. Especially his brother and mother. Then one day his brother takes him to work with him (something he shouldn’t be doing at such a young age), but Saroo is too tired to work at midnight. He falls asleep at the train station and then the train itself after searching for his brother.
This train leads him far away from home and he spends 25 years trying to find his way back. He nearly gets kidnapped several times, lives in a terrible orphanage, and eventually is adopted by an Australian family. Nicole Kidman is amazing as his adoptive mom. After 20 years of Australian life, an older Saroo decides to use modern technology to find his family. Dev Patel also gives a fantastic performance as the older Saroo and Rooney Mara is good as always in the role of his girlfriend.
‘Lion’ is an eye opening and important story of poverty. It’s exceptionally well acted and the first half is riveting. The second half is interesting and feels important, but the drama is a lot less compelling. Truthfully, the majority of it is Patel looking on computers and being sad that he can’t find his family. But, that doesn’t change the impact of the ending and this movie is well worth a look in this crowded Christmas movie season.