A young Saroo goes out with his brother for work late at night, his brother tells him to wait at the station but he never returns. Saroo wakes up alone and struggles to find his brother and falls asleep on a train parked at the station. He wakes up on the train traveling to Calcutta, miles away from home and no idea where to start looking, Saroo has to contend with a tough life on the street. He is then taken in my orphange and adopted by an Australian couple. In his adult life, Saroo tries to find his biological family and it becomes an obsession.
Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire is an obvious comparison to Dev Petal’s latest film Lion in which a younger version of Petal’s character gets lost in the giant city of Calcutta after falling asleep on a train. The scenes in which a young Saroo finds himself lost over a thousand miles from home are perhaps the hardest hitting, and the performance of child star Sunny Pawar is simply incredible. Sunny Pawar’s captures the overwhelming sense hopelessness at being lost and homeless in a giant city. His predicament is hard to stomach, and Sunny Pawar makes for a stunning and heart rendering emotional anchor as the film shows Saroo’s desperate situation is not one that is unique to him.
However, when the older Saroo appears on screen things begin to drag and become repetitive and dull. The fault doesn’t lie with Dev Petal's perfectly fine performance, even though there is a lot riding on his performance, but the fault lies with director Garth Davis who drags out Sonny’s search for his family with too many repetitive scenes that show the toil that the search for his family is having on Sonny and others around him. Also proving to be a drawback is the uninteresting relationship (with all that bloody face stroking) with his girlfriend, played by Rooney Mara, who serves as a character to emcompasses all of his romantic relationships. The major factor in making the film feel longer than two hours is the second act where a good 20 minutes could have been cut from the film without making too much of impact on the film’s emotional climax.
Rooney Mara is wasted in quite a boring role whilst Nicole Kidman excels in her respective role delivering a strong and powerful performance but not one that takes the limelight away from the heart of the story. Lion is a crowd pleasing film, but it’s very much on the average side and a slow second act takes away some of the emotion from the story