Wed | Feb 26, 2020

'Lion', a story of survival

Published:Monday | February 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMDamian Levy
Saroo (Dev Patel) attempts to find his family after 25 years in 'Lion'.

Dev Patel returns to the world of Academy Awards.

Lion, starring Patel as the main character, Saroo, tells the story of a young Indian child who, through a series of dire and horrific circumstances, gets separated from his family.

It's based on a true story, which will certainly give viewers the extra kick in the gut the movie needs to push you over the edge. Buckets are recommended for the sheer number of tears that may fall.

Lion may be based on a true story, but even so, it should be praised for the matter-of-factness in which it tells its story. There's very little that I felt was dramatised for the sake of a moving picture. It essentially felt like one of the stories, filled with hardship, of the many children left without homes each year. I commend the movie for knowing that that was enough. No additional flair needed.




The other element that stands out with the film is its insistence on silence. Much of the movie is spent chronicling the events that immediately followed Saroo's disappearance, from his point of view. Saroo finds himself in a place with a tongue that is not his own.

The movie sets him in situations that have no context, and you're given no information beyond the occasional subtitle. Mostly, you're left only with sights and sounds that are difficult to comprehend. The viewer shares in Saroo's confusion, which makes his horrifying situation resonate.

All of this is incredibly brought forward by child actor Sunny Pawar. His portrayal of young Saroo outshines Dev Patel, probably because he has the much more difficult of the two roles. Nevertheless, Patel's tortured survivor's guilt is palpable and the driving force for the film's plot. Saroo's story is his own, and not one that depends on another saviour or hero.

Amid the incredible journey of Saroo,is a movie that is filled with beautiful cinematography and an eye for scale. Many times, the film will capture Saroo in close-up, immediately contrasting a wide-open space. Perhaps suggesting his sense of prison in his new-found freedom. Or, the director likes Dev Patel's face. Either way, the film is definitely worth a watch, for all its tear -jerking moments.