Film Review: "Lion"

In his feature debut, director Garth Davis delivers a fantastic tale of family, danger, and perseverance all in a span of two hours. The cast includes fresh and familiar faces, including young Sunny Pawar and actor Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Man Who Knew Infinity) both teaming up to play the main character Saroo Brierley as his 5-year-old self, and later as an adult. The film also includes stars Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies, Moulin Rouge) and David Wenham (Lord of the Rings trilogy, 300: Rise of an Empire).

The film opens in the year 1986, in Khandwa, India. The film tells the story of 5-year-old Saroo Brierley (Pawar), who accidentally falls asleep on what he thought was an unmoving train. He is separated from his family, with no way of knowing how to get back home as he is illiterate and doesn’t understand the other languages. After years of him being lost, the only hope that could return him home is not only new to the public, but is still a longshot since he was never able to learn the name of where he is from.

Davis takes the audience on a devastating and thrilling ride from start to finish. This film tugs on the heartstrings in ways never thought imaginable, and brings hope even in the darkest of times. Everyone will want to adopt Sunny Pawar by the end of the movie as well.

Like Pawar, Dev Patel received his big break at a younger age in Bollywood films. He has had an amazing career since then, and won the BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actor in Lion. His overwhelming sense of emotion captures the adult Saroo in a way no one else would be able to.

Nicole Kidman, a well- known and highly acclaimed actress, brought this movie even more credibility simply by having her in the film. She played Sue Brierley, Saroo’s adoptive mother. Kidman’s raw emotion of the hardships that can come with adoption shine through in her brilliant performance. Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman work together in order to not only bring the emotion out for their performances, but out of the audience as well.

Along with the brilliant acting, the score also correlated well with the raw emotion captured on film. Sia, a popular hit singer, wrote the song called “Never Give Up,” which is featured in the credits. The song is correctly casted to inspire hope and bring the message that it is never too late to uncover what was thought to be lost. Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka also teamed up for the rest of the phenomenal score, along with featured songs from Mondo Rock, Enigma, and Picturetone Pete.

Along with the beautiful story, the beauty of adoption was major key to what made this story possible to be told. The evils that cause thousands of Indian children to lose their lives is also a strong theme of the story, and the final credits feature a website for people to learn more about supporting efforts to putting a stop to unsafe environments for India’s children.  

Lion is a must see for those who need to be inspired to keep going, or to simply believe in themselves. Even if you don’t have the ability to adopt or fund the children of India, simply seeing this movie can open your eyes in ways you never thought possible.