Geek Review: Lion

I wasn’t sure I wanted to see Lion when I first heard about it.

Now I’m glad I have.

Lion is the story of Saroo Brierley.  He was born to a poor family in India, and, one night when he was around the age of five, he insisted on following his older brother Guddu to a job of some kind.  It was night work, and he wanted to sleep on a bench, so Guddu left him alone.  At some point during the night, Saroo got onboard a train stopped at the station and fell asleep again.  When he woke up, the train was moving, and he was soon hundreds of kilometers from home in Calcutta.  Worse, he doesn’t even speak the local language of Bengali.  After falling through the cracks a bit, he’s eventually adopted by an Australian couple and moves to Tasmania.

Twenty years later, while taking classes for hotel management, he finds out about Google Earth.  He can vaguely recall much of his old village, including a name, but the name doesn’t mean much without additional information.  Now obsessed, Saroo wants nothing more than to find his original village and return to tell his mother and Guddu that he survived and is doing fine, even as this new obsession costs him jobs and relationships.

This is a rather powerful movie, chronicling one man’s need to return home to a family he hasn’t seen in a quarter of a century.  Played by Dev Patel as an adult and newcomer Sunny Pawar as a child, Saroo is a lively, intelligent man, determined to find his route home and also smart enough to avoid pitfalls in his youth perhaps due to his need to scramble and think fast his whole life just to survive.  Including strong supporting performances from Rooney Mara as his American girlfriend Lucy and particularly Nicole Kidman as his adoptive mother, this is a movie showing how strong the pull of home and the mystery of where it is can drive a person to obsession.  10 out 10 rock quarry flashbacks.

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