Starring Dev Patel (The Man Who Knew Infinity), Lion is based on the story of Saroo Brierly, a 5 year old boy in India who gets separated from his family and is not reunited with them until 25 years later. In the meantime, he goes through some trials before being adopted by an Australian family, being flown even further from his loved ones, and builds quite a nice life.
The start of the movie is very detailed. It involves a young Saroo being lost and wandering around Calcutta unsupervised, uncared for and unprotected for months before being taken to the authorities and placed in a foster care facility. Of course, during this time, finding his mother and reuniting with his family is at the forefront of his mind. But as time goes by he focuses on his own survival and makes the best of a dire situation. At 5 years old. Imagine that.
Saroo’s adoptive parents become his parents, nurturing and providing for him into adulthood. They love him unconditionally and he, them. He lives a privileged life in comparison to his impoverished beginnings in India, so he is lulled into putting his past behind him for many years. The gnawing to let his family know he is still alive returns when he goes to a friend’s house for an Indian dinner and is reminded by the food of this gaping hole that exists in his past.
Another movie about unconditional family love, Lion is by no means typical. We love our parents and siblings, but when the family fails for whatever reason, thankfully there are people to be found who make us a part of their family and provide the support system we would otherwise lack. Saroo’s adoptive mother is so unselfish, giving and loving. He was fortunate to be chosen by her and her husband for adoption. Just because Saroo longs to know what happened to those people he knew long ago doesn’t mean he loves his adoptive parents any less, and their capacity to love one another was never impeded in any way by the fact that Saroo is “brown” and his parents are “white.” Here, love is simply love.
Dev Patel is really becoming a rather good actor. This particular role requires a bit of “range” and what is required is done well. Sunny Pawar, who plays young Saroo beat out over 2,000 boys to land this part and he makes the best of his acting debut. He is one of the cutest children you’ve ever seen along with Abhishek Bharate who plays his older brother, Guddu. Both young men are talented and charming.
Lion is a sweet, carefully told story, which ran just a bit too long. I say that often about one movie or another, but I never say it lightly. I avoid going into a movie if I feel tired because I don’t want my tired state to affect my fidgeting or clock watching during a movie. I want to be as present as I can be while totally relying on the movie to draw me in or not. Today I was pretty refreshed and found myself staring at the clock at times during this movie. As stated above, the first half was detailed and I was more than ready to be introduced to Saroo as an adult by the time it was over. Many people had their coats on and were standing by the theater door in anticipation of the end so they could leave as quickly as possible. This is a sign that the movie may have been a tad too long and I am not the only one who believed this to be the case.
In the vein of Deepwater Horizon, Queen of Katwe and Loving, the material and story are respectfully handled in Lion, including an introduction to the real life subjects each of these movies is about. You get to see how carefully resemblances in appearance were considered in casting each role, or not. Why so and so has on that odd wig, or hair is dyed, weight is lost, etc. Showing pictures of the subjects at the end of these movies is part of what makes them special. You feel as though you are part of these experiences and get to know some deeply personal things about a complete stranger because they shared a private portion of themselves with you. At least it makes me feel that way. Thus, the people standing at the door with their coats on; they couldn’t leave because they did not want to miss the pictures featured at the end. So they stood there, like hostages, until it was truly over. I appreciate the personal pictures shown at the end and don’t think I will tire of them any time soon.
Lion earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. It is a good movie with an original, moving story with a greater message behind it. If you want to find out what that message is you will have to go see Lion or google it. You won’t hear about it from me, except to say that the message enhances the movie. Lion is rated PG-13 so it is somewhat of a family friendly film the older kids can go see and I think they will enjoy it. It may even help them to appreciate how good they’ve got it a bit more, and it reminds us all what humanity is all about.
1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
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Manchester by the Sea
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro