Lion (2016)

Director: Garth Davis
Writer: Luke Davies
Based on: the autobiography A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose
Cast: Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek BharatePriyanka BoseDavid WenhamRooney Mara
Seen on: 10.3.2017

Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his family in Khandwa. He adores his big brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) and when Guddu leaves to take a job for a day, Saroo tags along, the start of an oddyssey that leads him to Calcutta without any means to contact his family, or any clear idea where they are. Finally Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman, David Wenham). Many years later, the by now grown Saroo (Dev Patel) tries desperately to find out about his origins and what happened to his biological family.

Lion is practically the epitome of a tear-jerker and it worked very well for me. Meaning I was emotionally invested the entire time and sobbing a lot.

I can understand if you don’t want to see Lion fearing the manipulation the film offers. But if you do go to see it, I assume that you’re prepared for a certain amount of tears to flow. And Lion definitely delivers on that point, consistently pulling on your heartstrings, but fortunately not overdoing it too much.

It also features a really strong cast. Nothing less is to be expected of Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, but also Sunny Pawar really does a great job as little Saroo. Rooney Mara’s Lucy was a little disappointing, though, but that’s less her fault and more the script’s since it didn’t really develop a character for her to play.

I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot recently (maybe films are getting better about the topic) but it’s still feels like a rarity, so I will keep pointing it out: Lion is pretty smart about the topic of adoption. Probably because it’s based on a true story. But with Saroo and his adopted brother, it shows beautifully that adoption itself is not the way to heal every hurt and that it depends on quite a few factors whether the adoption story is going to be successful or not. And also that even when it is successful, the original family background will always be a point of interest to be examined for the adoted kids. They could have delved more into the racial factor and the cross-cultural/international adoption angle, though. Because that really isn’t unproblematic.

Of course, things end very well with only a little bit of sadness thrown in the mix. Certainly there are no problems to be found anywhere anymore by the end. That’s probably not terribly realisitic, but it does give the audience the opportunity to get a last good cry in before going home. And that’s worth something.

Summarizing: If you need a catalyst for a good cry, it’s the way to go.

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