I remember being a kid and getting antsy when I couldn’t find my mum at the supermarket – so the concept of getting lost 1200km from home at the age of five is enough to send me into a full on panic attack.
But that’s what exactly what happens in Lion, which documents a boy’s life after getting separated from his older brother while working in India and accidentally ending up on a non-stop train to Calcutta from his small village.
Despite his desperation to go home and his attempts to explain to less-than-useful adults what’s happened to him, fate lands Saroo in Australia and adopted by two loving parents on the coast of Tazmania, where he remains happily until adulthood.
However, Saroo (Dev Patel) can’t help but dream of his life back in India, and a chance evening brings back repressed memories of the mum, brother and sister he left behind. Going only on the wrong name of his village and how long he was on the train, Saroo uses Google Earth to start a search to reunite him with his biological family.
Nicole Kidman takes on the role of Saroo’s adoptive mother, and it is her best performance in years. Eternally loving and desperately trying to understand her children, it’s good to see Kidman still has it after years of goofs.
She stars alongside David Wareham as adoptive parents John and Sue Brierley, who immediately fall in love with their new child – and show what it takes to keep an unconventional family afloat with surprising sweetness and unstoppable heart.
As of Sunday night, Dev Patel has taken home the gong for Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTAs – and it was well deserved. He may always be remembered in the UK as the guy from Skins, but with two smash-hit films under his belt (the second being Danny Boyle’s 2008 awards darling Slumdog Millionaire) – he’s becoming one of the defining actors of the milennial generation.
But the biggest jewel in the crown comes in the real-life slum kid Sunny Pawar – who plays the young Saroo. Watching this child desperately ask for help but getting ignored or taken advantage of is gut-wrenching – and he carries the first half of the film completely on his shoulders, and it’s enchanting.
Between Australia and India, the film captures the beauty of both countries, and the love shared between the families Saroo is part of. However, it’s a bit of a shame that the budget appeared to stop short at Nicole Kidman’s wigs – that proved a little distracting to begin with.
Overall this film was a great experience only enhanced when you realise that it is actually a true story – and left my cold, skeptical heart shedding a tear or two. It won’t win the Best Picture Oscar it’s lined up for, but it’s a highly recommended watch.
Lion is in cinemas now.