There were few feel-good films released in 2016 as emotionally potent as Lion, the story of a five-year-old Indian boy who gets separated from his family and attempts to find his way home 20 years later.

Based on the autobiography A Long Way Home by Saroo BrierleyLion is a study of family, resiliency, and people’s ability to find and make a home wherever they may be.

Saroo (Sunny Pawar) comes from a poor family in India. His mother (Priyanka Bose) takes care of him, his older brother Guduu (Abhishek Bharate), his baby sister. Because his mother isn’t always able to feed them, Guduu and Saroo often scavenge for food.

One day, Guduu says that he is leaving to do work in a different town. Always looking up to his older brother, Saroo begs to come along. Guduu gives in and the brothers head out on a train.

Arriving at the destination at night, Saroo is exhausted and refuses to wake up. Guduu sits him down on a bench in the station and tells him to wait. Saroo wakes in the morning and his brother is no where to be found. Finding no other solution, Saroo wanders onto a train and falls asleep again. He wakes up to find that he is trapped on the moving train, alone.

Knowing very little about where he is from, Saroo is unable help the authorities get him back home. Eventually he is adopted by John and Sue Brierley (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman), an Australian couple.

Twenty years later, Saroo (Dev Patel), now with a sudden desire to find his first home, begins to piece together his past with the help of his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and Google Maps.

Lion‘s strength is found in its performances. Patel, Kidman, and Mara are all fantastic. At any point during the film, any one of them can make you cry. Both Patel and Kidman were nominated for Oscar awards for their performances.


Saroo and Sue Brierley, Subjects of ‘Lion… by Uinterview

But the best performance comes from Pawar. In his first role ever, Pawar commands the first half of the movie. His innocence and fear reverberate in every shot and his searching eyes make you want to jump into the screen, pick him up, and run him all the way home.

Garth DavisLion‘s director, aids in making the film more artistic than most other feel-good stories. The whole film is given a dusty hue that lends itself well to both the film’s settings, India and Australia.

At times, the story feels rushed – for example, Patel and Mara are very suddenly in a deeply caring relationship only seconds after meeting. The quick cuts don’t get in the way many times but they do end up taking away screen time from Kidman, who could have used one or two more scenes to develop her character a little more.

Lion was one of nine films nominated for Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards. Whether or not this nomination was warranted is debatable – Lion is certainly a good film and well worth your time but it’s not that good.

The Blu-ray edition of Lion features several deleted scenes, photos from behind the scenes taken during the shooting of the film, and the lyric video of the song “Never Give Up,” by Sia, which was recorded for the film’s soundtrack.

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