Lion has nothing to do with the king of the jungle, but it is about a lion. A five-year-old Indian boy named Saroo played by the effervescent Sunny Pawar gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. Saroo survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. This is the first 45 minutes of the film and it is captivating.
Lion was directed by Garth Davis who accomplishes a lot without dialogue. The screenplay was penned by Luke Davies adapted from the book “A Long Way Home” by the real Saroo Brierley.
Over 20 years later, a hospitality industry student, Saroo, as played by Dev Patel, sets out to find his birth mother and siblings via technology. Nicole Kidman is fantastic as the adoptive Tasmanian mother of two Indian boys—one very troubled. This next chapter of her career as a secondary character actress is sure to be fruitful.
The last third of the movie astounds with existential musings and harsh tensions. Patel as the relatively successful and seemingly content adult Saroo, save his for yearnings to understand his existence, does yeoman’s work, especially the capturing the Aussie accent.
The high climax and dénouement will give many a viewer goosebumps and misty eyes. True stories such as this are usually unworthy of their overly-affected film adaptations. This story earns every bit of the emotional manipulation. Lion’s final punch is powerful because we already bore witness to a boy’s will to survive; and then as a man aware of his aliveness and blessed life, the reason for his drive to understand who and why he is.