The Five Star Friday recommendation this week is Lion a film directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and featuring an incredible performance by newcomer Sunny Pawar – the eight-year-old Mumbai native who played the film’s protagonist as a child.  Lion is based on the astonishing autobiography, A Long Way Home, written by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose.

1 LionSummary:   Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of kilometers across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

Credits: The Weinstein Company presents; in association with Screen Australia; a See-Saw Films production; in association with Aquarius Films and Sunstar Entertainment; produced by Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Angie Fielder; screenplay by Luke Davies; directed by Garth Davis.

Starring:  Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sunny Pawar.

Without a doubt, the first half of Lion that show the young Saroo, his family, and his perilous cross-country journey are not only beautifully filmed but heartbreaking.  Not only does this story prey on our earliest fears of being abandoned, it does so in such as way to not leave the viewer feeling manipulated.

The credit for this belongs not just to the director, but to the casting choice of Sunny Pawar who played his part without self-pity but with pluck and an ability to reveal volumes with just his eyes.  That is not to say that Dev Patel’s and Nicole Kidman’s performances weren’t Oscar worthy.  But had their scenes were made more dramatic thanks to Pawar and Abhishek Bharate, who played his older brother Guddu.

If you like a bit of desolation with your feel-good movie, check out Lion.

As Renuka Vyavahare said in her Times of India review, “Sad yet uplifting, frightening yet inspirational, Lion breaks your heart into a thousand pieces and puts them back together in the end. It makes you believe in miracles and embrace hardships by celebrating courage and resilience in its own unique way.”

Happy Viewing, Susan C.

Also check out the original:

1 A long Way Home A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose –  Born in a poor village in India, Saroo lived hand-to-mouth in a one room hut with his mother and three siblings… until at age five, he mistakenly boarded a train by himself, and ended up in Calcutta, all the way across the country. Uneducated, illiterate, and unable to recall the name of his hometown, he managed to survive for weeks on that city’s rough streets. Soon after, he was adopted by a couple in Tasmania. But despite growing up in a loving upper-middle class Aussie family, Saroo still clung to the last memories of his hometown and family in India, and always wondered if he’d ever find them again. Amazingly, twenty-five years later, with some dogged determination and a heap of luck — and the advent of Google Earth — he did.


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