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Movie Review

Movie Review: 'Lion'

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Well, this must be the most emotionally powerful Google search of all time.

Lion is one of those movies that would seem completely preposterous if it weren’t based on a true story, but as it is, it makes you wonder at how in the world life turns out the way it does.

We follow Saroo, a young boy from central India who gets lost at a train station, ends up nearly a thousand miles away in Kolkata, sleeps on the streets for months, and eventually ends up in an orphanage where he’s adopted by an Australian couple and grows up in Tasmania. Then, one day—stay with me here—one day a friend introduces him to Google Earth.

Saroo has, of course, never forgotten where he came from, even if he’s become Australian in almost every way, and he realizes that just maybe, if he figures out how fast trains could move when he got lost 20 years before, and he follows the train lines out from Kolkata, he just might be able to use Google Earth to find his home and the family he left behind.

Of course, the only way this could work is if Saroo gets massively obsessed and spends every minute of every day searching and mapping and plotting points, and that’s exactly what he does, to the detriment of his personal and professional relationships. And, well, I won’t exactly tell you how it all turns out, but it’s probably safe to say we wouldn’t have a movie if his search was all for naught.

There’s no need for cynicism with a story like Lion, so it’s hard not to be moved by Saroo’s journey, especially as we see how he struggles with visions of the mother and brother he accidentally abandoned. Strangely, I do wish they’d taken even more time showing his deep dive into obsession, it seems to come rather quickly. And I was intrigued by Saroo’s relationship with his troubled adopted brother, another part of the story that gets short shrift.

Still, these are small complaints about a much larger story, a story that shows the value of persistence and the unimaginable twists and turns life can take.