Lion Movie - A Dark True Life Fairy Tale
When you’re ready for a good, cathartic cry that makes you reach for your children or your pet for cuddles, pull out the movie Lion and a box of tissues. This movie is an adaptation of the book, A Long Way Home, and tells the true story of Saroo Brierly, who gets separated from his birth family at the age of five. Adoption Choices of Reno explores with an adoption movie review.
The Plot Summary
Lion begins in India in 1986 and follows five-year-old Saroo, played by Sunny Pawar, who is separated from his family while traveling with his older brother to find work to support their family. After falling asleep on a decommissioned train, Saroo ends up thousands of kilometers from home, unable to speak the local language and hunted by human traffickers. Eventually, Saroo is sent to an orphanage and adopted by an Australian couple, along with another boy from the same orphanage. Twenty years later, adult Saroo, played by Dev Patel, seems to have had an ideal childhood apart from his brother, who has unnamed mental health issues due to his early years. During a college course, Saroo learns that he may be able to do what he previously thought was impossible, find his city of origin. Using Google Earth, he is able to find where he was separated from his family and reunite with his mother and sister.
Parts of the movie play like a dark fairy tale. Abandoned trains, child snatchers, elaborate buildings converted into cages for lost children and a wide-eyed, curly haired protagonist that observes the world around him. But because he is resourceful and intuitive, Saroo manages to skate by the scariest parts of his reality as a lost child.
The Dark Side of Life
In many ways, Lion is not afraid to show what is, or was in 1986, a culture that Western viewers would see as unimaginable and corrupt. Children have to work dangerous jobs to help feed their family. Police turn a blind eye to atrocities. Kind strangers turn into threats as they seek their own financial gains. The entire first half of the movie seems to be one unimaginable reality after another. Orphans are rented out to men at night,while the other children watch and collectively comfort each other by singing themselves to sleep. What’s more, the movie declines to comment on it. The world is presented to the viewer and the viewer is left to draw their own conclusions. Only near the end does Saroo’s adoptive mother (played by Nicole Kidman) make a comment on the conditions he was adopted out of. Almost as a throwaway, she tells adult Saroo that bringing him and his brother out of their environment and giving them a chance at a better life was all she wanted.
This lack of comment may be because the world is being experienced through the eyes of a child who may not have enough context to make judgements. Adult Saroo doesn't consider himself Indian and seems to have repressed most of his childhood until he runs with a group of Indian students in his college course so may be disinclined to comment on it.
While the brutality of the world young Saroo inhabits is gritty and horrible, Lion really seems to pull back on any suffering our protagonist may be experiencing. He really does skate past the terrifying occurrences of his reality without any damage done to his person or psyche. While we assume Saroo is starving and terrified, little is done to show him suffering. This may also be a choice made to hint at things instead of stating them outright, but the juxtaposition of the brutal realities with the unstated realities seemed jarring in an otherwise beautiful movie.
An Amazing Cast
Nicole Kidman dazzled as adoptive parent, Sue Brierley, with a performance that is understated. She is warm and manages to give the on-screen character of Sue Brierley incredible depth. The little time we spend with Sue, we see her emotions range to show the wonder and joy of new motherhood, hope that the people she loves will live up to the potential she sees in them and then to a very quiet grief when her children are suffering.
Patel delivers a stand out performance that is compelling and empathetic. However, the stand-out star of the movie is Sunny Pawar. As young Saroo, Pawar makes you want to reach through the screen and pull him into your home to keep him safe. His gigantic eyes and mussed hair definitely trigger those protection feelings, but it’s really his performance as the unfortunate lost boy that tug at the heartstrings. The bulk of his acting is nonverbal but he’s able to convey boldness, resourcefulness, vulnerability and intelligence. All of the children cast in the film are compelling and, as a viewer, your heart will ache for their various plights.
Adoption is a Love Story
Ultimately, Lion is a heart-warming, tear-inducing adoption story used to shed light on some terrible truths about the Indian (specifically) lost and trafficked children tragedy. The most staggering and heart-wrenching statistic was delivered at the end of the movie. On average, 60,000 children go missing in India every year. Of that 60,000, thousands are trafficked and only half are found and returned to their families. As the end cap to an otherwise warm and tearful ending, it comes as a necessary gut check lest we forget where Saroo came from and what he went through before his happy ending.
If you are considering placing a baby for adoption, the staff at Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Reno are here to help you through every step of the adoption journey. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation to learn more about our services. We are here to help you weigh all the available options and to discuss the adoption journey. All of our services are provided at no cost to you, and your call never obligates you to proceed with an adoption plan.
Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Reno has been providing adoption and surrogacy services across Nevada since 2012. You can call us to speak to someone now!