“Lion” 2016 – Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara. Poster credit: imdb.com
Directed by: Garth Davis
Our take: Watch It!
Being parents makes watching any movie where children suffer well-nigh impossible. We would prefer to move on to any other movie that is pure fiction. We don’t know how everybody else feels but we would feel better not placing the faces of our children on the silver screen when the story is sad or maybe even cruel. Add the words “Based on true events” to that and it is all the more likely a movie we will pass on. Lion, however, called to us louder than most so after checking to make sure the kids were in their beds and not lost we sat down to watch it.
Be forewarned, the first half of this movie is in numerous dialects of the Indian language. “Not a problem,” you say. “No subtitles,” say we. For about 30 minutes we tried to find a way to get subtitles for the movie but failed in every attempt. We gave up, but discovered we understood what was happening perfectly fine, and it added to the sense of confusion and sympathy we felt for young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) as he had to guess meanings, read facial expressions and hand gestures. Later in the movie there were subtitles so we figured this must have been intentional. It works, you feel as lost and isolated as a 6-year-old boy in a country filled with adults.
Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire, The Man Who Knew Infinity) was adopted by Sue Brierley (Nicole Kidman, Strangerland, Secret in Their Eyes) and her husband after having been found roaming the train stations and streets of Calcutta India. Saroo, despite being happy with his adopted family, still retains fragments of the night he got lost and separated from his older brother. Saroo grows up, goes to college and along the way meets and falls in love with Lucy (Rooney Mara, Carol, Una and Ray). As fulfilling as Saroo’s life is he cannot shake the mystery and the memories of who he was and where his true family is. Try though he may, he cannot move on and there begins the search for his family.
We were taken by the story and I personally thought the idea of piecing together your past from memories that are some 20-years cold seemed beyond impossible. Truth be told, I have trouble remembering where I leave the car keys or my glasses when I get home from work. Attempting to piece together the last moments you had before you became an orphan is both painful and grueling but Saroo is undaunted. He leaves behind him everything and everyone in his present to search for those from his past.
Without spoiling the movie for you, we can say it is harrowing to watch Saroo retracing his footsteps, we found ourselves asking each other if Saroo should quit, or should he look at just one more image? We rooted for Saroo but we also said (in unison) “Live in the now, bro! It can’t be done!”
In the end as painful a journey as it may be we can see why this splinter in Saroo’s mind will not let him rest and why it causes a fever that blurs yesterday, today and tomorrow. Lion is worth watching if only to discover why he is named “Saroo.”