Lion, directed by Garth Davis (Alice, P.I.N.S), tells the true story of Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel) who was lost from his home for 25 years. As a child, Saroo resided in the poverty-written city of Ganesh Talai, India with his mother, his older brother Guddu, and his younger sister Shekila.
One night, Guddu heads out to do laborious night work at the train stations when Saroo begs Guddu to take him with him. After relentlessly pleading to Guddu that he is capable of performing the laborious work, Guddu reluctantly takes his small five year old brother with him. By the time the brothers get to the train stations to work, little Saroo is falling asleep. Therefore, Guddu instructs Saroo to wait at a train station bench while Guddu works. When Saroo wakes, he grows impatient while waiting for Guddu to return. Saroo then wanders into an empty train in hopes to find Guddu there. As Saroo walks in the empty train, it begins to drive away. As the train travels for days, young Saroo screams out the window to strangers “Help me! Save me!”
When the train finally stops at a large station, little Saroo helplessly walks around yelling “Guddu! Mum!” After unsuccessfully finding them, he is left to fend for himself for almost a year on the streets of Kolkata.
Later on, a young man takes Saroo to the authorities, but they cannot help him. Consequently, he is sent to an orphanage for a short time. Soon, an Australian couple, Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John Brierley (David Wenham) adopt him along with another orphan Indian boy.
Saroo is raised in Hobart, Australia; and when he grows up, he pursues a career in hotel management with his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara). However, once he enters his late 20s, he puts his life on hold to begin his search for home. After years of researching, he finally finds his hometown, Ganesh Talai. He reunites with his mother and sister, and quickly asks about his older brother Guddu. His mother informs Saroo that Guddu was killed by a train the same night Saroo went missing. His mother purposely never left her home in Ganesh Talai in hopes that Saroo would one day return home to his family.
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) portrayed the role of Saroo Brierley extremely well. Even though we only see him for the second half of Lion, I thought he gave an empowering performance. There were two scenes that I found significant in his acting. The first was when he and his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara) were arguing on the street about him failing to find his home. Patel successfully portrayed Saroo’s inability to find his family with the struggling emotion of his dialogue and mannerisms.
The second scene I was moved by was when he reunited with his mother in Ganesh Talai. With Patel’s combination of his bittersweet happiness of embracing with Saroo’s family, while learning that his brother has been dead the whole time, earned him his Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In the Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor category, I foresee Jeff Bridges being Dev Patel’s greatest competition for this award due to his comically great performance in Hell or High Water. I loved both of the actors’ performances and I would be happy if either of them took the award home; and without a doubt, I know that both will be nominated for an Oscar.
Nicole Kidman also also gave a notable performance for her portrayal of Saroo’s second mother, Sue Brierley. Kidman portrayed the emotions of Sue’s pain in the complications of the Brierley family along with the sadness of seeing her son leave to find his real mother. Kidman did deserve her Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress, but I do not foresee her winning the award due to her part being too small in comparison to the roles of her competition in this category. I am confident that Viola Davis will win the award due to her incredible, one of a kind performance in Fences.
The screenplay of Lion was nothing less than heart-wrenching. This adapted screenplay
was based on Saroo Brierley’s book A Long Way From Home. Throughout the whole movie, I was emotionally drawn to the story. Seeing little Saroo cry for his family in the train station of Kolkata, seeing him struggle to acclimate to his new life in Hobart, and most importantly seeing him reunite with his mother made me all cry several times while watching Lion.
It is very rare for me to watch a movie that makes me cry so much and that has me sitting at the edge of my seat until the end. I am extremely disappointed that Lion’s screenplay was not nominated for a Golden Globe award. In my opinion, I believe it is more deserving of the nomination than either Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea. I really do hope that the Academy will recognize this incredible screenplay when the nominations are released in late January.
Overall, I give Lion 5 out of 5 stars, as it is so far my second favorite movie (after Hacksaw Ridge) of the 2016 film season. With Lion’s composition of emotionally packed acting, along with a remarkable screenplay, it is without a doubt one of the best movies of 2016. As far as the chances of Lion winning the Golden Globe for Best Drama Motion Picture, it is competing against the very deserving movies Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water. With these movies in the same category, I really cannot predict if it will win or not, however I am looking forward to seeing which will take the award home. On another note, movie critics are predicting La La Land will win Best Picture at the Oscars, which is disappointing to hear. Hacksaw Ridge or Lion tell greater and more substantial stories (that are actually true) of the endurance of the human spirit; which is far more superior than a musical and more deserving of the coveted Oscar. However, this discussion can wait until I write a review for La La Land.
Written by Alyssa Weinstein