What was the first film that ever made you cry? My first in memory is Bridge to Terabithia, probably the most depressing but sweet children’s movie I’ve ever seen. Nowadays almost every movie makes me cry at one point or another, but there are some movies that just make you emotional the whole way through. From 2012’s The Impossible to the more recent Moana, the new Australian film Lion joins a prestigious rank of truly emotional movies that earn their weepiness.
Lion sees a young boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) from rural India separated from his family after he mistakenly joins a train that takes him thousands of miles away from home to Calcutta. 25 years later, living in Tasmania with his adopted family (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), Saroo (Dev Patel) yearns for his past and sets out to find his family.
Lion is one of those movies that just makes you cry from start to finish, with its beautiful story of loss and discovery tugging at one of the strongest heartstrings: family. A story told in two parts, the performances in it are so raw and emotional, but entirely different: though he faces the most hardship, Sunny Pawar’s young Saroo is captivating to watch, his innocent eyes packing the most punch as he is separated from his family and shuffled around Calcutta. From surviving kidnap multiple times to the horrors of the orphanage, his strength makes you weep for the heart of this young boy, who never forgets his beautiful mother, as we are reminded through crushing flashbacks. His happier experiences, however, are a joy to watch: his childlike exploration of Calcutta, and his adoption and move to Australia will make you laugh and cry even more, but as this young boy comes to discover a land he’d never dreamt of before, you can’t help but remember the family he left behind, who should be there with him, bittersweet in the back of your mind.
Dev Patel’s older Saroo, on the other hand, goes to much darker places in his movie; not only does his physical obsession to find his family take him over, but the emotional turmoil and guilt for both his lost family and the family he feels he is betraying sends him spiralling. As well as his incredibly realistic Australian accent, Patel is able to highlight the human struggle between selfishness and selflessness heartbreakingly, as he isolates himself for days on end, trawling Google Earth for a glimpse of the familiar, only to be unable to sleep over the guilt of his deception and his flood of memories. And over all of this looms the reality of his task: even if he finds his home, will his family still be there? Surrounded by a brilliant supporting cast of Nicole Kidman and David Wenham as his mum and dad, who just want to keep their difficult family together, and Rooney Mara as Lucy, Saroo’s girlfriend who pushes him to places he doesn’t like, but needs, Saroo’s journey through his mind to India is a wonderful moment of catharsis and pure emotion.
Director Garth Davis so beautifully and vividly showcases the imagination and tragedy of youth and leaving things behind, in a film that highlights the power of memory and the strength of family. The immense challenge of taking such an unbelievably true story and making it such an emotional rollercoaster cannot be ignored, and despite some pacing issues, Lion is a raw and honest emotional journey that stays with viewers long after it’s over.
It’s a small cast, but here’s my top five favourite films starring the cast of Lion:
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Dev Patel
- Moulin Rouge! – Nicole Kidman
- Dogville – Nicole Kidman
- The Social Network – Rooney Mara
- Kubo and the Two Strings – Rooney Mara
Photos taken from IMDb.com: