Sam Bernstein staff writer
Garth Davis, in his feature debut, brought the riveting nonfiction book “A Long Way Home” to life in his Oscar nominated film “Lion”. Dev Patel delivered the best performances of his budding careers in this heart-wrenching tale about a young man destined to find his way back home.
“Lion” follows Saroo Brierley, played by Sunny Pawar, a young boy from the small village of Ganesha Talai in Madhya Pradesh, India. One night, early in the film, Brierley goes to find work with his older brother Guddu, played by Abhishek Bharate, however the toddler cannot manage to stay awake after departing the train that got the pair to the workplace. The elder brother leaves his younger brother to nap on the bench at the train station they get off the train at; however, the child cannot sleep once he’s alone. He notices that there’s an out of service train parked at the station he’s in, so, using his childish curiosity, he goes and explores the dormant train. With pure fatigue taking over the small child, the younger brother falls asleep in the train. Unfortunately for the family, the train isn’t idle for too long and Saroo wakes up halfway across the country.
The rest of the film depicts Saroo’s incredible adventures as a homeless child in an area with a different native language, different culture, and an entirely different landscape. There’s run-ins with kidnappers, traffickers, and regular, kind people looking out for him. They go on to show Saroo get taken in as an orphan, which he doesn’t react all too well to. The young boy is quickly adopted by a Tasmanian couple, and he has a regular Australian childhood. The movie fast forwards a year, and quickly after that another 20 years to show him as an adult. The young man becomes determined to find home after discovering Google Earth software.
Pawar turns in an incredible performance, which is especially incredible for an eight-year-old. His performance is the highlight of the movie. His interpretation of every situation, and his comfort on camera show that Pawar absolutely has a bright future on the silver screen. Patel’s performance of a man who has all the courage in the world, yet no hope from any outlet. Everyone leaves his life, and he still has a somewhat positive outlook. That message is beautiful and it highlights the film’s focus on tenacity.
The main issue of the movie is not developing the budding romance between an older Saroo and Lucy, an American woman Saroo meets at university. It was a major part of the climax of the movie, and even the epilogue provided after the movie didn’t give any further info on their relationship. It leaves the viewer unsatisfied.
The movie highlights themes of determination and family, and the general story that depicts Saroo’s courage and tenacity to find home could entice any viewer into becoming more thankful for what s/he has. The aim of the film is to show sweet, heartwarming examples of how hard work and determination always pay off in the grand scheme of things, and it does that perfectly.
This is the best movie of the year. In a season where empowerment for minorities was highlighted in award nominations (“Hidden Figures”, and “Moonlight”), this was the best one. The perseverance of Saroo is the strongest depiction of the strength of minority individuals around the world. The message that even in the darkest of times, anyone can persevere and fight to reach where they strive to be will inspire generations of kids worldwide. Overall, this movie is a must see. I’d give it a 10/10, and so would anyone that appreciates cinematic beauty like “Lion”.