I’m still trying to catch up on my Oscar-movie viewing, now that my busy work time is done for the moment. This week, I went to see Best Picture nominee, Lion, on half-price Tuesday. What a wonderful, moving film!
I found that I had to adjust to the slower pace and the subtitles at the beginning, but the two young boys playing Saroo (Sunny Pawar) and Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) really managed to convey the loving bond between brothers. Both new to acting, they will also be in an upcoming movie, Love Sonia, with Demi Moore. In Lion, after Saroo becomes separated from his brother, Pawar’s performance has the audience with him every step of the way, feeling how lost and alone he is and admiring his resiliency. We see the desolate landscape of some parts of India and the bustling crowds of Calcutta, where Saroo does not speak the language and is unable to articulate where he came from. Director Garth Davis said, “In a broad sense, I saw the first half of the movie — the Indian movie — as an external story and I saw the second half as an internal story.”
The movie is based on a true story, as told by the real Saroo Brierley, and follows the boy to his adoptive family in Tasmania, Australia. The adult Saroo, played convincingly by Dev Patel, feels lost despite the good life he has with his family, and the second half of the movie is about the journey to try to move from lost to found. Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman (playing his mother) both really deserved their Oscar nominations.
The story of Saroo was very moving, but I also found myself focusing on the agony of the mothers in the movie. I wondered how mothers (and fathers too) manage to keep going after their child goes missing. The not knowing and the worry over their child must be truly terrible. As the adult Saroo says in the movie, “Do you have any idea what it’s like knowing my real brother and mother spend every day of their lives looking for me?” According to the Lion website, in India over 80,000 children go missing each year and over 11 million children live on the streets. The producers, in partnership with The Charity Network, have launched the #LionHeart Campaign, supporting charities that work to protect children in India and around the world. The link to donate is here.
Nicole Kidman shows us the anguish of an adoptive mother who is trying her best to help her two adopted sons, but like all of us parents, she can only do so much. Particularly with children not adopted as babies, there is a whole history affecting the child that the parents cannot truly understand. And even with supportive, loving adoptive parents, not all children do as well dealing with their past as one would hope. Every now and then stories hit the news where adoptive parents take the drastic (and for me unthinkable) step of “re-homing” their children after they find they cannot cope with the effects of their children’s past history. I’m sure I’ve seen a more recent story than this, but here is a 2013 “Time” story on the subject. Thankfully, the Brierley family was able to stand by their two sons and support them to the best of their ability.
If you haven’t seen Lion yet, I highly recommend the movie. You may also want to bring along a tissue or two!