Based on a real story, Lion tells the incredible tale of a five-year-old boy who gets lost and survives on the streets of Calcutta before being adopted by a couple from Australia. 20 years later, he starts a near impossible quest to find his long-lost family….
In 1986, five-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar), lives with his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate), his mother (Priyanka Bose) and his younger sister in a small town called Ganesh Talai in Khandwa, India. His family is poor, but Saroo nevertheless is a happy child. He seems to adore his older brother Guddu, which whom he steals coals from freight trains in order to trade the coal for milk and food.
But one day, Saroo and Guddu lose each other after Saroo fell asleep on a bench. In search for his brother, he boards a train, which then starts moving and takes Saroo to the far-away city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).
1500 miles away from home, little Saroo somehow manages to survive on the streets of Kolkata before he is taken into an orphanage and then adopted by an Australian couple, who live on the island of Tasmania.
20 years later, Saroo (now played by Dev Patel) moves to Melbourne to study hotel management and starts a relationship with American student Lucy (Rooney Mara). When he tells his new the fellow students that he is adopted, Saroo becomes increasingly driven by the desire to know what has happened to his family back in India.
In a near impossible quest, he starts meticulously searching Google Earth in order to find his home town in India…
Half-way round the world: From India to Australia
As the film is based on the true life story of Saroo Brierley, much of the film was shot at the original locations of Ganesh Talai in Khandwa. The other main filming location in India was the city of Kolkata in West Bengal.
The Australian filming locations include the city of Melbourne in Victoria as well as Hobart, Tasmania; Marion Bay, Tasmania (for the scenes where the family plays cricket on the beach); Mount Wellington, Tasmania (when Saroo and Lucy look over the city of Hobart); Bruny Island, Tasmania; Cape Hauy, Tasmania and Recherche Bay, South West Tasmania.
If you have ever seen one of these family reunion shows on TV and you were touched then, you will be touched by Lion for sure! It’s quite remarkable that this incredible story is based on (and comes very close to) the true life story of Saroo Brierley.
But what I really loved about film was that the director chose to tell the story in chronological order instead of using flashbacks. This means, the first half is just about the two brothers in India and the second part just about Saroo’s time in Australia.
And the location for the ending of the film? I’ll let you find out yourself…
Oscar-nominated Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman (who plays Saroo’s adoptive mother Sue Brierley) deliver outstanding performances, of course, but the young Indian actors deserve some credit, too. In his next film, young-Saroo-actor Sunny Pawar even stars next to Freida Pinto and Demi Moore: Up-coming movie Love Sonia, is equally inspired by true events and tells the story of a young girl who gets caught up in the world of international sex trafficking in India.
The final verdict:
A very emotional, but beautifully captured true story! Some scenes in the second half were a little bit too slow-paced for my taste, but I loved the fact that the story was told in chronological order!
**** 4 out of 5 stars
Watch it now!
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