From the get go, Lion hits you right in the feels. Based on the autobiography A Long Way Home, the film throws you straight into the happy life of Saroo Brierly, a young boy living in Ganesh Tilai, with his brother, mother, and sister.
He idolises his older brother, cares for his younger sister, and is desperate to be one of the big boys as soon as he can.
But you know that soon Saroo is going to lose everything he holds dear and Suny Pawar as the young Saroo is a revelation.
As the film takes the audience with Saroo on his journey to Calcutta, an orphanage, and t people he meets, Sunny is the reason you are unable to take your eyes off the screen.
From the moment that he wakes up on he train, to the scenes with the other homeless children to the orphanage, Sunny is able to maintain disbelief and hope and fear all in one single look.
When the story moves to Tasmania, Dev Patel takes over the role of Saroo, now a grown man with a life and career down under.
A fine actor, Dev brings a world weariness to Saroo, a man who is beginning to cracks under the weight of his history. But Dev is unable to affect the same emotion asSunny, and it is only in his scenes with Rooney Mara, playing a romantic love interest, that we see a depth to his Saroo, a man torn between two worlds and two lives.
Although mostly told in chronological order there are gorgeous scenes in the latter half of the film as Saroo recalls earlier memories and locations, and Nicole Kidman as Saroo’s adopted Australian mother has a small but crucial supporting role; in any other year she would be a shoe in for supporting actress nominations.
Where Lion falls down unfortunately is in the last act, when Saroo, having used Google Maps to find his home town, returns to India.
It’s a crowd pleaser of an ending that aims to make you cry, and will 100% succeed, but it will also make you angry because it’s so obvious.
Subtly never hurts.