Saroo Brierley is a very lucky man. As this remarkable movie based on real events reveals, he could easily have been just another statistic, a vulnerable young child lost in a massive country that struggles to cope with poverty.
It’s a film of two parts and in each there are superb performances.
Sunny Pawar plays five-year-old Saroo in 1980s India. Life is very tough; his mother works as a labourer and he and his brother take every opportunity to help out (not always legally).
One day Saroo convinces his older brother to take him on a trip to find work. However, the youngster ends up alone on an empty train, transported hundreds of miles away to bustling Calcutta.
And he has no idea where his home village is.
After some harrowing encounters he is adopted by a couple in Tasmania.
Years later, Saroo (now played by Dev Patel) is struggling to come to terms with his past - very aware of the torment his birth family must have felt and still suffer.
So he starts on what seems to be an impossible search for a remote village, using 25 year old memories of landscape and buildings.
Both Pawar and Patel are quite superb and convincing in their roles.
Added to the mix are Abhishek Bharate (young Saroo’s beloved brother), Nicole Kidman (as the woman who adopts Saroo) and Rooney Mara (as his girlfriend), all providing excellent performances.
We definitely get caught up in Saroo’s journey and because of this it’s an emotional trip.
But this is a heart-warming and brilliant story.
And why is it called Lion? Well, you need to wait for the explanation before the final credits which includes scenes of the real Saroo and his family.
Film details: Lion (PG) 118mins
Director: Garth Davis
Starring: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara
Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol