Dev Patel, as an actor has really developed and grown since his breakthrough role in teen angst show Skins and Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, throw in a smattering of lesser known roles and we get to Lion, the real standout of Patel’s career so far. Patel plays Saroo Brierley, a grown man that as a child became detached from his family in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) due to a train station mix up. Adopted by a Tasmanian family (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman), he decides to follow through with his childhood yearnings and find his lost family.
The odd thing is that he decides to track his family down using Google Earth; now in another of The Demon’s reviews we wrote that Passengers was a cautionary tale about the dangers of technology, whereas this happens to be one of the stories about the beauty and efficiency of technology. Saroo would not have previously been able to find his family with technology as a child in India due to lack of resources and that’s where the story for Lion comes in.
Director Garth Davis spins what could have been an incredibly boring film into a beautiful, soulful piece. The idea of a boy essentially searching for his family using a map is not one of the most intricate and exciting plots in the world but Davis alongside the wonderful cast, weaves an emotional and heroic narrative that will leave you reaching for the tissue box more than a few times. A lot of this is due to how captivating Patel is on the screen; his raw emotion and naturally benevolent demeanour make the Lion, the heartbreaker that it is. However, child actor Sunny Pawar, who plays the young Saroo, is equally as captivating almost rivalling the performance of Lewis MacDougall in A Monster Calls, another emotionally charged film. Originally premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in November last year, Lion has gradually built in anticipation before being nominated for 4 Golden Globes earlier this year.
This story could have happened 5 or even 8 years in the past as Google Earth has been around for a while, Saroo did wait a long time to find his family which makes you wonder if it is technology or it’s the trauma of his past that he cannot face. Both could be likely. Some gripes include the running time, as two hours seemed slightly excessive for a narrative of this calibre. However, those who have ever been abandoned as a child or have a similar experience will find this film incredibly impactful.