LION is based on the true story of a young Indian boy named Saroo who mistakenly travels nearly 1,000 miles from home when he boards a train. After living on the streets for a period, he winds up adopted by an Australian couple. When he’s older, Saroo uses Google Earth to zoom in on particular train stations and areas in order to finally locate his hometown in India. More than 20 years after leaving home, Saroo returns and reunites with his mom and siblings. Adult Saroo is played by Oscar nominee Dev Patel. Saroo’s adoptive mother is played by previous Oscar winner (and current Oscar nominee) Nicole Kidman. Saroo’s girlfriend is played by Oscar nominee Rooney Mara. Young Saroo is played by newcomer Sunny Pawar. LION is directed by Garth Davis.
LION is a well-made and well-crafted story. I really enjoyed the standard timeline intercut with some flashbacks and visions, similar in that regard to the recent Tom Hanks film SULLY.
The acting is very good, though I think young Saroo, played by Sunny Pawar, is more deserving of an Oscar nomination than Nicole Kidman, who plays his adoptive mother. He has to express a variety of emotions throughout the film and had to learn all of his lines phonetically since he doesn’t speak English. So, not only is his performance deeply believable and moving, but from that technical standpoint it’s amazing as well.
I really love the relationship between young Saroo and his older brother. It is loving and particularly gentle as Saroo seems to worship his older brother. Their relationship also serves as a counterpoint to Saroo’s later relationship as the older brother in Australia to another Indian boy whom his parents adopt. Pay attention to the evolution of that relationship between brothers as well.
For more about LION, including the color choices in the film and how Google Earth succeeded as a brand integration, take a look below:
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