Release Date: November 25, 2016
Do you ever watch a movie that changes your view on the world? This is one.
Lion follows the story of Saroo, an adorable 5 year old boy (played by Sunny Pawar), who while waiting for his brother to return boards a train and falls asleep. When he wakes up the train is taking him hundreds of miles away from his home. He ends up in Kolkata, India where he manages to miraculously survive on his own for a few months before being adopted by an Australian family. 20+ years go by and grown up Saroo (played by Dev Patel (♥) ) discovers he can use Google Earth possibly find his way home.
This movie really shines from the beginning with spectacular cinematography and adorableness of young Saroo. We see him happy, then lost and scared, then trapped. Then he gets adopted by Sue and John (played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham…wait Faramir??! I knew I knew him). We see him introduced to his new home then the movie skips 20 years.
The sudden jumps in the timeline was kind of weird. Not only was the massive time jump jolting to the pace of the film, but the development of Saroo’s character.
It appears that he moved in and lived a great life with his new family until *SPOILER ALERT* one day as a 25 year old he sees something that triggers a memory from when he was 5 in his hometown. The movie makes it seem that all of the sudden he remembered that he was lost. I would have loved to see him grapple with that growing up! I think even just a short scene could have made that transition easier for the audience to take.
As we see the start of Saroo’s search for his first family the pacing falls back in rhythm. We see*SPOILER ALERT* the adult Saroo begin to come to terms that he is lost, that his original family has lived every day wondering where he is, maybe even still searching. We watch as he deteriorates in that guilt and what seems like a hopeless search. Longing for those people he barely remembers yet still feel right there with him. This is done with some really cool editing, I’d like to add. Those flashbacks/memories make his struggle that much more believable for the audience. I was then back into the story and able experience the remainder of the film with him and to not have any spoilers here I’ll just say tears…tears or blurry projectors.
What stuck with me most is that this movie is so relatable. That seems like a silly thing to say because his story is so tragic and huge ,but at its core it’s a movie about a man not just trying to find his first home, but find out who he is. And isn’t that something we all go through?
Maybe we aren’t tasked with finding a needle in a haystack like Saroo, but we all have to break down things in our lives, things that have happened to us. We have to think about what and why we think the way we do. Analyze who we are, process it and put the pieces of our personality and life back together and decide who we want to be. This is something you have to, or rather should (IMO) do, before you put other people in your life. *SPOILER ALERT* That is something we see Saroo do with his adoptive mother, adoptive brother, and his girlfriend (played by Rooney Mara). But once he does find his home and his first family he gets a fuller sense of who he is and can have fuller relationships.
But back to my original point…
I’ve honestly never traveled outside of the US and it’s easy to forget that in places like India everyday life looks so much different. Movies have a unique ability to enter our everyday lives and bring different people and places and cultures into view. One reason I like going to the cinema by myself. I can have an honest and genuine reaction to a film. I allow stories like this to come alive to me. To say something to me that can influence my perspective. Movies can affect the way you look at the world. If you just let them.
I am very hopeful this movie will catch some Oscar noms. It appears that LaLa Land is set to sweep (seeing that how the Globes went), but I think Lion could contend for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and perhaps Best Editing. I see a nom for Best Picture and Best Original Score, but I don’t anticipate wins in those categories.