March 12, 2017
I rarely review movies ahead of their home video release but Lion is such an important film I couldn’t wait to share my thoughts on it. One of the beautiful things about the cinema is how varied and diverse the subject matter can be, from superhero flicks to indie coming of age films and everything in-between. So with that, I have to say Lion may not be for everyone, but for some, it could be a very, very special film.
If you grew up in a nuclear household, never divorced or didn’t grow apart from someone you love, Lion may be nothing more than a touching story with some beautiful scenery. But, if you grew up never knowing one of your parents or through circumstance lost contact with a parent or loved one, Lion could be one of the most emotional films you’ll ever see.
Plot: Lion follows 5-year-old Saroo (played by Sunny Pawar & later by Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire) who becomes separated from his mother and older brother in Khandwa, India. Saroo eventually finds his way to an orphanage and is ultimately adopted by an Australian couple living in Tasmania (played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Life for Saroo in Tasmania is a far cry from the poverty and despair he knew in India, later Saroo’s new parents even adopt another young child from India but as Saroo grows older he begins to wonder about the mother and brother he left behind.
It was at this point in the film where I was able to relate to Saroo in a way I haven’t related to a character in a film in a long, long time. While at a dinner party Saroo has a flashback that triggers old memories and a yearning to try and find his mother and brother. After considerable research (with a then new tool called Google Earth) Saroo decides to take the trip to India and makes his way back to the village where he believes he grew up.
Sound and Image: As I’m reviewing the theatrical release, I can’t comment on the quality of sound and image for the home video release. Suffice to say the film is chock full of beautiful cinematography.
Overall: When I said I was able to relate to Saroo’s plight I didn’t mean that I was separated from my mother at 5-years-old, or was adopted and moved thousands of miles away but, I do know first-hand what it’s like wonder if a long lost parent is looking for you, or even cares about your well being just as Saroo wondered.
Without giving away the ending, Saroo finds answers and new questions at his journey’s end. Speaking as someone that never knew his father (and came to learn he didn’t even know the full story of his birth until his mid 30’s) the ending of this movie was intensely emotional for me, I cried for 15 minutes straight and suspect I would again on subsequent viewings.
The odds of Saroo finding his village in a country as vast and densely populated as India with a tool like Google Earth were incredible, yet he did. For anyone searching for answers, Lion is a great lesson in perseverance for us all.
Lion in my estimation is an instant classic, the kind of film that many will remember for a lifetime. The closest film of this type I can remember as a kid was ‘The Black Stallion’ but even that comparison falls short, Stallion was an adventure film with elements of loss where Lion is film about loss with elements of adventure.
As of this writing, Lion (PG-13) is still being shown in many theaters and I wholeheartedly recommend you see it on the big (BIG) screen while you still can.
Aspect Ratio: Unknown
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Theatrical Release Date: November 25, 2016
Run Time: 118 minutes