An incredible journey that happens to be a true story is portrayed in “Lion,” one of the top tier movies in 2016.
The picture tells the story of Saroo (played at first by Sunny Pawar) a young boy from India who, through a series of events, is separated from his family and ends up alone on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of miles from home.
Much of the first act of the film shows Saroo, who doesn’t know the pronunciation of his home town and also speaks a different dialect, trying to survive on his own before eventually getting taken into an orphanage. As a result, Saroo is eventually adopted by a married couple from Australia. The film then has a timeskip and shows Saroo as a grown man (Dev Patel) who’s still haunted by his past. Because the memories of his family live on, Saroo sets out on a mission to find out where he’s from.
“Lion” is a movie with a great start and a fantastic finish, but things get a little rocky in the middle. Watching Saroo’s struggles as a child in the first act is heartwrenching and a viewer can’t help but be frightened for him in every early scene.
This first act is helped by Garth Davis’ direction and the work by the crew, who were able to make the large city feel expansive, subsequently making Saroo’ struggles even more difficult as the world seems so ‘big.’
The second act, though, is where the film hits a bit of a snag. There’s nothing about what’s portrayed that’s bad, per se, but the film seems to lose its momentum. There’s a period where some of Saroo’s life in Australia is explored and while it gives some context, it doesn’t lend itself much to any emotional highlights.
Some of what’s shown in the the second act could’ve likely been trimmed to allow more time for Saroo’s search in the third act, for example.
Speaking of the third act, it’s where the picture ultimately rebounds for an emotionally charged ending. The flick has a delightful finale and puts a meaningful cap to Saroo’s journey.
In terms of acting, Oscar winner Nicole Kidman, Academy Award Nominee Rooney Mara and Golden Globe Nominee Dev Patel all deliver some fine performances. Patel in particular really has some fantastic moments on screen.
However, the real star of this film is Pawar, who basically carries the early portions of the film. Pawar portrays Saroo as timid and scared but does so without being overdramatic or unrealistic.
“Lion” is a feelgood movie where its heartfelt moments, largely coming in the film’s climax, are well earned. When heartstrings are pulled, it’s not done in a cheap manner, but rather with real human drama. 4 out of 5.