Based on the incredible true story, Dev Patel portrays Saroo, a young Indian boy who gets lost in the streets of Calcutta, thousands of miles away from his home. Unable to trace his steps home to his tiny village, Saroo ventures to try to find his family by living on the streets and spreading his story. Unable to find his family himself, or through the help of others, he is eventually adopted by an Australian couple who look to give him a new home. 25 years pass, Saroo is now an adult, still unsure of his adventures and whereabouts when he was younger, but he is still determined to find his true mother and home.
A great film always starts with a great story. Lion has this in abundance; the true story of Saroo is breath-taking and incredibly sad. So straight away, you feel gripped by this story. The screenplay itself holds the right balance cinematically, but dramatically, too. We get enough time spaced out for the events before Saroo is an adult and when he is grown up. The pacing and dedication to space out the time periods in the film and script is perfect. Additionally, having superb actors helps a long way as well.
Dev Patel gives a career best performance as Saroo. His acting is second to none and completely resonates what Saroo must have been thinking all these years. The build-up of uncertainty, love, sadness and hope all build up on his character through the film, and all of that can take a toll, but Patel gives a powerful performance. One I won’t forget for a very, very long time. Not only does Dev Patel give a good performance, but newcomer Sunny Pawar, the young version of Saroo gives us probably one of the most natural performances I’ve seen on-screen by a child. Doing the things that he had to do on screen, but not only his actions, but his emotions that he has to carry on screen too. He has to be applauded for it, especially that he carries a good 40% of the whole film. Crucially, its right at the start of the film too. Personally, that’s what made me love this film the most. It was his natural performance of Saroo that really gripped me from the first second of the movie. Not only do these two give good performances, but Nicole Kidman delivers a fantastic portrayal of Sue, the adopted mother of Saroo.
Riding alongside the characters is the beautiful score by Dustin O’Halloran. His soundtrack really helps elevate the performances on-screen and brings Lion truly to life. It digs down deep and really helps you connect to these incredible characters but it also makes you want to break down in tears, too. Relatively new on the scene, director Garth Davis also impresses with his great camerawork. Capturing the beauty of India and Australia respectively, he helps bring Saroo’s story really come to life.
I’ll warn you, this is not for the faint hearted. If there ever was a tear-jerker, Lion is it. I never shed a tear at films but by god this got me. Lion is emotionally powerful from start to finish and easily becomes one of my favourite films of the past few years. Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar and Nicole Kidman star in what should be one of the most talked about films right now. I’m crossing my fingers for some luck at the awards circuits too, because if there is ever a film that deserves some recognition, its Lion. 5 out of 5 stars.