Lion is based on the Saroo Bierley's memoir "A Long Way Home." Five-year- old Saroo lives in abysmal poverty with his mother, sister and older brother, Guddu, in a small village in India. One evening he goes with Guddu, whom he adores, to the train station. Guddu tells him to wait there while he seeks work. When, after many hours, Guddu does not return, Saroo crawls into a train and falls asleep. The train leaves the station. He is unable to get off the train until it arrives in Calcutta several days later. Saroo has to survive on the mean streets, which is particularly difficult because he speaks Hindi, not Bengali, the language of Calcutta. Eventually he is taken to an orphanage which arranges his adoption by a kind and loving Australian couple, Sue and John Bierley. The contrast between the hovel where he lived for his first five years and the Bierley's beautiful home and opulent surroundings in Tasmania could not be more stark.
The film fast forwards to the adult Saroo (Dev Patel) who, after meeting several Indians in Melbourne where he is attending school, learns that he might be able to find his village through Google Earth by calculating the likely distance from his village to Calcutta based on the amount of time he was on the train. He begins his search, then stops, frustrated by his lack of success and guilt over whether he is being disloyal to his adoptive family, Eventually he resumes his search encouraged by his girlfriend. The film ends with his tearful reunion with his mother and sister. He learns that his brother was hit by a train and killed the night he left Saroo at the station. A note at the end tells us that the Indian government has created programs to reunite lost children with their families.
In an emotional scene between Saroo and his adoptive mother, played by adoptive mother Nicole Kidman, Saroo tells her how sorry he is that she was not able to have her own children. She corrects him, telling him that she was not infertile but chose to adopt believing there were already too many people in the world. I cringed. How much better if she had used her resources to help children stay with their families. I wonder if Kidman realized how wrong Sue was.--jane
PS: Kidman has two adult adopted children with Tom Cruise (and she appears to be estranged from them, neither parent apparently was at the daughter's 2015 wedding), and both appear to be involved with Scientology, which would prohibit them from talking to Kidman, who left the cult. She also has two young biological children with signer Keith Urban, at least one born via surrogacy, as Kidman by then was in her mid 40s.
I heard that the incomparable Indian actor, Dev Patel, was dying to get Lion made so he could play the part. His breakout role was in Slumdog Millionaire, and he later starred in the Marigold Hotel movies as the young man trying to keep the quixotic hotel going. He's a wonderfully expressive actor, always interesting to watch. He was born in London to parents of Indian descent. I also loved his role in HBO's Newsroom. He's already racking up awards and nominations. Lion hasn't come to my part of the world yet, I'm dying to see it.--lorraine
I finally saw Lion myself and while it's good it never really got on fire for me. The first part of the story felt like a documentary, and then there is Sooro's obsession to find his mother, which while portrayed correctly had a one-note feel to it. The reunion scene with his mother is played perfectly, but overall as a movie movie that people want to see again and again...I found Lion lacking.
It did leave me wondering how many people are going to rush to India to clean out those orphanages, and the corruption and kidnapping that is part of the industry. I also mused how prospective adoptive parents might feel--the scene at the end where the actual people are filmed--Soroo, both of his mothers--was a good ending. Soroo's natural 'mum" does thank the adoptive "mum" for giving her son a good life, and in this context, it seemed right. It certainly portrayed the intensity of the emotions that Soroo felt to find his way back home. I'm a crier, and though I did cry, it was not buckets.--lo_______________________________
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A Long Way Home: A Memoir