From the trailer alone, LION, a story about a man searching for his family after being tragically separated from them for 25 years, is poised to be a tearjerker. After attending the World Premiere at TIFF, I can guarantee that it is not only a tearjerker, but a film will bring out everyone’s ugliest cry.
Based on the novel “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierly, Lion tells the real-life story about five-year-old Saroo who gets lost on a train in India traveling away from his home and family. After living on the streets, he ends up in a sketchy orphanage only to be adopted by an Australian couple. He lives a brand new life until his past comes back to him while in college. When memories come to the forefront, he uses Google Earth to do the impossible: search for his long lost family among millions in India.
Directed by Garth Davis and adapted for the big screen by Luke Davies, Lion is an inspirational tug-on-your-heartstrings film about love, family, and never giving up hope. The film beams with every emotion in the book as we go on Saroo’s journey. From his relationship with his beloved family in the slums of India to when he lives helplessly on the streets to when he becomes passionately committed to finding his family as a grown man, the film is incredibly moving.
Dev Patel shines as adult Saroo, giving a determined performance all thanks to the endearingly irresistible Sunny Pawar, who carries the first part of the film as young Saroo. Nicole Kidman connects well with both as a loving and a concerned mother. Patel and Kidman’s performances give them enough potential to put them in a corral for the Best Actor and Supporting Actress come Oscar season.
The film brings us on a tremendous journey with Saroo, a journey that grabs hold of your heart with a kung fu grip and eases up as Saroo comes closer and closer to a resolution. Ultimately, the biopic rides the waves of emotion, to which audiences will respond — who doesn’t like a movie that turns on the waterworks and has grown men (like myself) sniffling in a puddle feelings when the credits roll. Perhaps my deep connection for Lion comes because of my Asian heritage and being the son of immigrant parents. Not that I have ever lived on the streets in a third world country, been mistreated in an orphanage, or been separated from my parents while lost on a train. My connection simply comes from seeing a mainstream film telling the touching story about a person of color that puts a heavy emphasis on universal themes.
Lion is a precious gift and considering the volatile social climate, seeing nuanced and inspirational stories about people of color and immigrants is something that the nation really needs now more than ever.
Running time: 120 minutes
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer