A long way home

Image via Long Way Home Productions 2015
Image via Long Way Home Productions 2015

‘Lion’ film review

By Chandler Walter, Assistant Editor



Confusion. Misplacement. A sense of being lost. Lion (2016) turns what far too easily could have been a common story of a young boy losing and then finding his way home again into something much more personal and real.

We follow a young Saroo (in an outstanding performance by Sunny Pawar) from his initial displacement to eventually being welcomed into a loving Australian home. Lion lingers on the younger Saroo for longer than would be expected in what one might have assumed to be a Dev Patel leading movie, but it is necessary in establishing the latter half of the film.

When Dev Patel takes the baton, it begins with his realization that his family is still out there, and that he may now have the tools to find them. While his search through Google Earth is the driving plot of the story, there is a lot more to Lion than a man trying to find his way home. Lion shows the divide between cultures and classes; between a poor, homeless boy in the streets of India and a well-off man living in Australia. Saroo expresses this himself in a moment in which he is riddled with guilt at the thought of his old family living in slums, still looking for him, while he lives a life of privilege.

Lion is heavy. I would not recommend it for a first date if having a potential crush see you cry is something you’re hoping to avoid, but I would definitely recommend it in any other circumstance. It is simply a powerful story told properly, with both Patel and Pawar doing an excellent job. The film differs from Slumdog Millionaire in tone—Lion being more sombre, with hazy backgrounds and dark scenes (both in lighting and feel)—though it does seem familiar in its journey through India. Patel shows a noticeable shift in character from the earlier film, and truly proves that he has a range to work with.

Lion was hands down the most emotional movie I have seen in quite a while. It delves into the realities and repercussions of something most of us could barely imagine; to lose all that you had known at five years old and be left with only vague memories as proof of a life once lived. Tack on the fact that it is based on a true story, and the level of suspense and uncertainty following Saroo as he searches for his lost family multiplies.

I found this film to be the story that I had expected it to be, but was delighted to find that there was so much more.