If you haven’t at least heard of this film, you may have been living under a rock. Lion is the Oscar nominated film based on the true story of a young Indian boy who becomes separated from his family.
Little Saroo finds himself in Calcutta over 1200 miles away from his small village in western India. Unable to speak the regional language and not knowing his mother’s name or the correct name of his village, Saroo eventually finds himself adopted by an Australian couple and adapting to a completely new way of life.
As an adult he experiences a strong desire to locate his family and his home in spite of being hindered by his lack of pertinent details and the decades which stretch his childhood memories.
Lion is a film which garnered critical hype and great reviews leading to its’ Oscar nominations. Everyone I have personally spoke with raved about how great this film is. Perhaps it is inevitable then, that I was a little underwhelmed. If I had viewed Lion without the high expectations which were unintentionally placed on the film, I may have been more impressed.
Another hindrance for me becoming a passionate fan of Lion is its’ setting in India. One of the things I appreciate about foreign films or even American films with foreign settings is that it exposes me to a larger world, viewpoints and cultures which are very different than my own. Unlike most who want to explore the world, India has never been a place of particular interest to me. Though the first half of this film occurs in India, I found myself looking forward to the change of setting when Saroo moves to Australia.
However, this is not to say that I wasn’t moved by the film’s story. I found it deeply emotional. From the tragedy of Saroo’s separation from his family, the traumatic things he experiences before his adoption, to the desperate search for his biological family, I found myself alternately sad, uncomfortable, astonished and relieved.
Saroo’s search for home as the film’s theme, impacted me. But a deeper, more subconscious theme was his yearning for identity. Despite being raised by compassionate, loving adoptive parents, he still longs to know his origins and to reconnect with the love he remembers in his childhood memories. His chances of his search succeeding are minimal, hindered by many things, not the least of which that he does not know his mother’s name or the correct name of his little village. He has only his long-term visual memories to go by and the few things he remembers about where he was lost. Yet, he never gives up.
Even though I was slightly less impressed than I expected to be, I still really enjoyed this film. I always appreciate when Hollywood brings real life, inspiring stories to the screen. In a world where bad news is constantly reported and chaos seems to be the order of the day, these stories of true heroism from ordinary people remind us all that there is still a lot of good in the world.