“LION”: a loving couple in Australia adopts a runaway from India, who as a successful grown businessman looks for his birth mother

LION”, is the English translation of “Saroo” or “Sheru”, and is also a three part biographical film of the youth of Saroo Brierley, now a writer and businessman in Tasmania. Australia.

Saroo was born in Ganeshh Tilai slum near Khandwa, India.  One day, at age 5, he got separated from an older brother Gunnu who was supposed to look after him, and ran away, eventually living in the streets of Calcutta.  He had enough street smarts to escape the possible introduction into child sex trafficking, and wound up in a welfare shelter.  But he was fortunate enough to be adopted by a well-off loving couple in Tasmania and raised in Australia., from whom he took their English family name. He learned English and forgot a lot of his Hindu.

In the middle section, Saroo excels as a teenager and young man, with the parents winding up with the privilege of raising a “Clark Kent”.  At least that’s how Indian-English actor Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”) portrays him.  He goes to hotel management school and to work, but one day, after seeing a Hindu food at a party, begins to remember his past and long to find his birth mother.  The third part of the movie shows his locating his home on Google Earth and returning home to find his birth mother.

The couple (played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman) had also adopted a child who turned out to be autistic, and the film shows some strain in Saroo’s relationship with his new brother, reflective of having been left helpless by his natural brother by accident.  The couple confides to Saroo that it did not want to have its own children, because there were too many poor kids in the world that needed care.  Usually, most people need to have their own children to get in the game, so this is remarkable.

The film is based on the 2012 book by Saroo, “Homeward Bound” or “A Long Way Home: A Memoir” (Berkley).  The film is directed by Garth Davis and the screenplay was adapted from the book by Luke Davis.  The wide screen photography shows stunning shots of the central Indian desert, with all the slums and manual labor in a quarry, and of Tasmania, and also Melbourne.

Name:  “LION”
Director, writer: Garth and Luke Davis, Saroo Brierley
Released:  2016/12
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Common, 2016/12/25, small auditorium, evening, near sellout
Length:  116
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  TWC
Link:  official site


Wikipedia photo of Hobart, Tasmania harbor.

Wikipedia photo of countryside near Kandwha, India

The title of the film reminds me of the PBS-Sundance documentary in 2006 “A Lion in the House” (Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert) about five families in Cincinnati copying with children with cancer; a rather hyperbolic title.

Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2016 at 11:30 PM EST