Once grown Saroo (now Dev Patel) attends Hotel Management School in Melbourne where he learns of Google earth and begins the task of piecing together his past in an attempt to find his mother, brother and home. He is supported by his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara) along with his classmates but he fears that his mother might see this as being ungrateful so he shuts her out of the process causing her even more harm giving the difficult situation with his brother Mantosh.
Garth Davis directorial debut is a true story based on the book Lion by Saroo Brierey. The film is a commentary on the massive amount of children that go missing and wander the streets in India each year and the place of ones original culture when a child is adopted into a vast new environment. It's also a strong story on the altruistic Brierey's who decided to make it their goal to give children that were already in the world and suffering a better life rather than having their own kids.
The early sequences where the young Saroo is alone in Calcutta fending form himself yet weary of questionable adults is a high point in the film. Saroo is befriended by Prama (Pallavi Sharda) but becomes suspicious of her friend Rawa (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). He is taught some skills by a social worker at the orphanage then quickly displays them once he is placed in the Brierey's home in Tazmania. The contrast to his brother Mantoh is chilling as his childhood experiences are to traumatizing to let go despite being thousands of miles away on a new continent.
Although the film lags early in the second part as the Google Earth searches are plodding and takes longer than needed. Lion is an emotional watch that quickly draws the audience into an invested state through its young hero and will challenging the viewer to remain dry eyed at several points in the piece. It's a strong debut film by a gifted filmmaker that we hope to see more work from in the future.
*** 1/2 Out of 4
Lion | Garth Davis |Australia / UK / USA | 2016 | 129 Minutes.
Tags: Orphan, Hindi, Bengali, Decommissioned train, Calcutta, Adoption, Tasmania, Melbourne, Google Earth.