1hr 58mins | Rated PG
Starring: Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel
Dev Patel stars in Lion, the film based on Saroo Brierley's book, A Long Way from Home, about his life story. It was nominated for a Golden Globe, and if you want to know why, it opens in Kiwi cinemas next week.
There are so many creative pitfalls adapting such a deeply emotional and at times quite harrowing story for the big screen. Thankfully, first-time feature director Garth Davis doesn't miss a beat.
This is Saroo's story. As a small boy, he finds himself lost on the hectic terrifying streets of Calcutta, hundreds of miles from his village and home. His doomed fruitless search for his family sees him scooped up into an orphanage.
Before the year is out Saroo is adopted. His new home is Tasmania, Australia, his new parents, Sue and John Brierley, played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham.
Twenty years later, a happy, robust, content young man, loved and nourished by his adoptive parents, Saroo leaves Tasmania to study. The constant pull of his real homeland and his real family becomes much stronger, and so much harder to ignore. The birth of Google Earth will give him the tools he needs to begin his search.
Patel cements his leading man status as Saroo, and Davis tells Saroo's story in a refreshingly linear way. The sparse use of flashbacks are momentary contextual heartbeats rather than plot signposts, and they're quite beautiful.
It's an amazing way to kick off the cinematic year. Lion is at once a heartbreaker, a journey for the soul and the senses, and ultimately the life-affirming experience you need it to be.