Thursday Night Movie Club
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Release Date: 6 January 2017

Director: Garth Davis
Dev Patel
Rooney Mara
Nicole Kidman
David Wenham
Sunny Pawar
Abhishek Bharate
Priyanka Bose
Khushi Solanki
Shankar Nisode
Tannishtha Chatterjee
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Riddhi Sen
Koushik Sen
Rita Boy
Udayshankar Pal
Surojit Das
Deepti Naval
Menik Gooneratne
Saroo Brierley
Sue Brierley
John Brierley
Young Saroo
Young Shekila
Café Man
Police Official
Liluah Teacher
Shonedeep/Haunted Boy
Mrs. Sood

Lion movie poster Lion movie poster Lion movie poster
Lion is a dramatization of real events. The film tells the story of Saroo Brierley who had two amazing lives. One life was cut short by tragic events. The second life was one of endless possibilities. In the end, Lion is a story of self-discovery. Who am I? Abhishek Bharate and Sunny Pawar in Lion

In 1986, five-year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) pesters his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) to let him accompany Guddu to look for work to help support their mother. The two boys travel to a nearby village. Guddu tells Saroo to wait for him on the train station. Saroo falls asleep inside a passenger train car parked on a siding. Saroo awakens to find he is locked in the speeding train. The train travels non-stop for days.

The train stops in Calcutta where the people there only speak Bengali. Saroo tries to communicate with the man at the ticket counter. The man doesn't understand the boy. Since there are so many people in line, Saroo is tossed from the line.

Saroo eventually finds himself in an orphanage. Attempts are made to locate his mother. But young Saroo is mispronouncing the name of his little village. Authorities search Calcutta. They place ads in the newspapers. These attempts are futile as no one has heard of Saroo's village.

Luckily, Saroo is adopted by two remarkable people, Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John Brierley (David Wehham) from Australia. Saroo leaves India and begins life anew. Initial misgivings by Saroo slowly change as the family slowly bonds. Saroo is happy and loved.

Dev Patel in Lion24-years later, now adult Saroo's (Dev Patel) life takes a radical turn. He begins taking classes in hotel management where he meets Lucy (Rooney Mara). The two fall in love. At a dinner party with fellow students, Saroo discovers peppers in the kitchen. The peppers are exactly the same as peppers he once asked Guddu to buy for him. The peppers unlock hidden memories of his past. He is not from Calcutta. His mother, brother and baby sister must have been worried sick about his disappearance. They don't know what happened to Saroo. Saroo has no idea what happened to them.

The students tell Saroo about Google maps. Starting from Calcutta, one can roughly calculate the speed of a train in 1986 and thus calculate how far Saroo traveled. The students offer to help Saroo. Saroo makes an unfortunate decision by not accepting their help.

Saroo's decision and subsequent investigation becomes a personal obsession. Saroo begins staying up late into the night searching. His hunt affects his job as a hotel manager. He quits his job to focus on his investigation. His all-consuming investigation splinters his relationship with Lucy. He slowly tears his family apart.

His mother Sue falls into depression and sickness. Saroo's life takes another turn when he finally confronts her on a questions that have bothered him since he discovered the truth that he is not from Calcutta. Why didn't Sue and John have children of their own? Why did they adopt him and his brother?

Nicole Kidman as Sue Brierley in LionSue explains this slowly in a very touching and tender moment that earned Nicole Kidman an Academy Award nomination. Sue and John could have had children of their own. They may the radical decision to adopt less-fortunate children and give them a better life. They sacrificed what could have been to help others. Saroo is stunned. He now sees Sue and John in a new light.

But his obsession remains. Not knowing what happened to his real family is sending Saroo further and further into dispair. He finally reaches the breaking point and begins slamming the keys of his laptop displaying different satellite images of India. Saroo's world suddenly stops rotating. His life comes to a complete and utter standstill. He has found a photo of the terrain he recognizes!

Saroo slowly retraces the terrain. He locates the train station where he last saw Guddu. Not far off, Saroo finds his village, Ganesh Talai. When he was only 5-years old, he had been mispronouncing the name of his village. Hence, no one could find it.

Dev Patel in LionOnly one question remains: What happened to his family? In a brilliantly photographed scene, Saroo again walks the path he took so many years ago. Everything familiar. Each step gets him closer to home. Tragedy strikes! His mother no longer lives there! But all is not lost. The villagers know his mother. Saroo is finaly home! His mother is alive. His sister is alive! His brother, Guddu, was struck and killed by a train on the very night Saroo went missing.

There are two final resolutions to Saroo's story. In his search for his true identity, Saroo finds his true identity. His mother in India is his mother. More importantly, Saroo's parents in Australia finaly become his Mom and Dad. In another touching sequence, Saroo tells his parents how he feels. Because of the time difference, they listen to his heart-felt message on their answering machine.

Lastly, Saroo learns that he and Guddu have been mispronouncing his name. His real name is Sheru, which means Lion.

Sunny Pawar as Saroo in LionThe acting in Lion is stellar. Sunny Pawar dominates the first half of the film. This is an amazing performance from a child. The film succeeds where it could so easily have failed. Director Garth Davis mesmerizes the audience with young Saroo's story. Saroo is poor, but he is happy. Then everything goes wrong. Davis is able to tell the story entirely from Saroo's perspective. Davis keeps the film focused on Saroo.

Dev Patel dominates the second half of the film. Grown-up Saroo goes through his normal, everyday, happy life until his world comes crashing down. Patel is fantastic as the young man who goes from happiness, love and joy to slowly sink into obsession and despair. Patel's performance is subtle yet captivating. Patel excellently portrays how Saroo's investigation slowly changes him and how his changes affect those who love him.

Rooney Mara as Lucy in LionRooney Mara is an excellent choice to play Lucy. Mara has a nack for understated performances. Mara is at her best adding subtle facial expressions, gestures, and postures to explain her character's thoughts and emotions better than her dialog. Lucy is clearly in love with Saroo, yet she reaches the conclusion that Saroo does not want her help. Mara captures Lucy's feelings of abandonment. Lucy needs to end a stagnant relationship and move on with her life.

On one hand, Saroo loves Lucy. But his commitment to finding his mother interferes with his commitments to Lucy. The acting of Patel and Mara together is wonderful. They meet and fall in love only to have their lives slowly splinter until it breaks. But Love has a way of conquering all obstacles. When Saroo locates his village, Lucy is the first person he tells of his discovery.

Every performance, from larger roles to bit parts is portrayed seriously. Subtleties in character's expressions and gestures tell a deeper story. Young Saroo finds himself in the care of Noor (Tannishtha Chatterjee), a woman who speaks his language. Saroo is safe. When Rawa, a friend of hers, visits, Saroo has suspicions that something is not quiet right. He flees. Chatterjee's performance is excellent. Noor seems fair, but feels foul.

Dev Patel in LionLion is another excellent example of telling a story that the audience knows the ending. Director Garth Davis holds the audience's attention throughout the film. The film is captivating and mesmerizing. Davis builds suspense and tension without excess flair. The cinematography is beautiful but does not distract from the story.

The cast keeps the film grounded. The acting is understated which works perfectly. Emotions are expressed subtly but powerfully. Over acting by the cast would completely ruin the film.

Lion is a strong, powerful yet very personal film. The story and characters are complex but firmly grounded in reality. The actors make the story and characters believeable, sympathetic, and emotional. The audience is drawn into Saroo's story from sorrowful beginning to triumphant resolution. Lion is a great piece of filmmaking. Take a chance on it. You will be surprised!