Lion (2016 film by Garth Davis)

A wonderful film exploring the emotions of adoption, loss and displacement.

The basic premise of this film, which will as usual sound simplistic, is that a young Indian boy from an extremely poor background gets lost and ends up a thousand miles from home. Yes, really. He is eventually adopted by an Australian couple, but as an adult realises that he has a deep need to find his birth mother and his brother. It is based on a true story.

I won’t give any more away, but of course it goes far deeper than that, particularly focusing on the complicated web of emotions involved, for the boy, his birth mother, his adoptive parents, his girlfriend, his adopted brother, and others. It is set, beautifully, at first in India and then Tasmania. I suppose you could castigate me for implying that the poverty portrayed in India is beautiful; but the photography is vivid.

Image result for Dev Patel LionThe acting is outstanding, particularly from Sunny Pawar as the young boy. It is very hard to believe he is playing a part, he’s so naturalistic and convincing. He says very little. Dev Patel (pictured: he from Slumdog Millionaire) is the boy as an adult and is extremely good, showing emotion without milking it. (He is also very beautiful. So I believe.) The adoptive parents, Nicole Kidman and David Wenham, pack a real emotional punch for me; and here is where it gets difficult to write an objective review.

We are adoptive parents four times over, and although no film can depict every emotional state involved in adoption, as all adoptions are of course totally different, I don’t believe that this one could be bettered in that task. There is joy, sadness, heartache, loss, at all stages. They never go. It’s extraordinarily difficult to empathise with all the participants in adoption, and I believe this does just that. Of course I am going to have a particular identification with the adoptive parents. Phrases like “my real parents” really pack a punch for me, whereas they probably mean little for anybody not involved. Perhaps, if I am going to be at all picky, the parents are a little too wonderful; but perhaps I am just too aware of my own shortcomings.

I cannot think that any film could give you more of an insight into adoption and still be entertaining. Maybe it makes the adoption process look too easy, though of course I have no knowledge of what it is like in Australia. Maybe it does not acknowledge the cultural problems. BUT if you want to have a very good idea of the feelings involved in adoption, then go and see it….. Oh, go and see it anyway. It’s a great film. Why didn’t it get a shed load of Oscars?

Yes, I cried.


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