Lion - 2016
Lion brings the true story of Saroo and his search for his family. As a child in India Saroo was separated from his family and adopted by a couple from Australia, 25 years later he is consumed by the need to find his family in India. Lion has an amazing cast lead by Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and gave us the joy of meeting Sunny Pawar.
Sunny Pawar plays 5 year old Saroo, in one of the greatest child performances in recent memory, going toe to toe with Jacob Tremblay from last year's Room. We spend almost half of the movie following young Saroo in where he really demonstrated that he can lift anything, carrying the movie on his tiny shoulders (if you watch the movie... I hope you at least chuckle at that). He was able to convey all the emotions required from him and he really shines when we follow his days on the train, showing a degree of sadness and desperation many of the current actors in Hollywood today wish they could convey.
As we follow his days alone in India, we get to see the sad reality for a child alone on the streets. One scene in particular, set back mustache aficionados 30 years back, when a mustached man with very little dialogue was able to creep me and the entire theater out with just under five minutes of screen time. Saroo eventually lands in an orphanage and learns to speak some English as he is on track to be adopted by an Australian couple. I will never be able to not think about young Saroo went looking at a pepper shaker.
Half way through the movie we meet Dev Patel's Saroo. He is in his late 20's and has a great relationship with his adoptive family and identifies himself as an Australian. Once in college he is surrounded by other people of Indian decent and starts to be consumed by the idea or the need to find his routes and his family in India.
This obsession to find his roots is so deep, that he starts to create a distance between himself, his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and his adoptive mother (Nicole Kidman). The second half on this movie really hit me hard, they where able to mix current events with flashback to his time with his mother and brother in India. Every memory he recalled was another layer of emotion that gripped you and made you cheer for him even more. There are multiple scenes that tug at your heart strings, one of them was a conversation between Kidman and Patel regarding adoption and I can't help to think this scene was the main reason Kidman, herself having adopted two children in real life, accepted this role.
Overall this movie is extremely moving and knew how to structure its story to keep you invested thought the entire run time. The use of its violin and piano score was subtle and masterful and the use of no score in key scene made the moments hit harder. Director Garth Davis made an impressive feature debut and I look forward to his next feature film.
The ending shot of the film is bitter sweet but extremely beautiful and as soon as I left the theater I texted my parents and brothers that I loved them. This is why I love movies, when they can make me reflect on my own life and gain appreciation for the blessing I have.
See Lion if you can.