Lion (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
April 2, 2017 by Dennis Amith
“Lion” is deserving for each of its award nominations, critical praise internationally and it’s a film that many people will no doubt find extraordinary and worth watching on Blu-ray. “Lion” is recommended!
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 118 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (Thematic Material and Some Sexuality)
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2017
Based on the book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierly
Directed by Garth Davis
Screenplay by Luke Davies
Produced by Iain Canning, Angie Fielder, Emile Sherman
Associate Producer: Simone Nicholson, Karen Sproul
Executive Producer: Andrew Fraser, David Glasser, Daniel Levin, Shahen Mekertichian, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Associate Producer: Simone Nicholson, Karen Sproul
Music by Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O’Halloran
Cinematography by Greig Fraser
Edited by Alexandre de Franceschi
Casting by Kirsty McGregor
Production Design by Chris Kennedy
Set Decoration by Nicki Gardiner, Seema Kashyap
Costume Design by Cappi Ireland
Dev Patel as Saroo Brierly
Rooney Mara as Lucy
Sunny Pawar as Young Saroo
David Wenham as John Brierly
Nicole Kidman as Sue Brierly
Abhishek Bharate as Guddu
Divian Ladwa as Mantosh Brierly
Priyanka Bose as Kamla
Tannishtha Chatterjee as Noor
Pallavi Sharda as Prama
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Rama
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.
In 2013, businessman Saroo Brierly wrote a book titled “A Long Way Home” which is based on his autobiographical account of being separated from his biological mother and family at the age of 5 and adopted by an Australian couple and then 25-years later being reunited with his biological mother.
Brierly’s book received international recognition when his book was released worldwide in 2014 and in 2016, his story received a live film adaptation.
The Australian biographical film was directed by Garth Davis (“Mary Magdalene”, “Alice”, “P.I.N.S.”) and features a screenplay by Luke Davies (“Candy”, “Life”).
The film stars Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”, “Chappie”, “The Last Airbender”, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”), Nicole Kidman (“Moulin Rouge”, “The Others”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “The Hours”), Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Side Effects”), David Wenham (“300”, “The Lord of the Rings” films, “Van Helsing”), Divian Ladwa (“Dectorists”, “8 Minutes Idle”, “Saxon”), Priyanka Bose (“Johnny Gaddaar”, “Gulaab Gang”, “Guzaarish”), Abhishek Bharate and Sunny Pawar.
The $12 million film would go on to earn $130.2 million worldwide and receiving positive reviews from critics worldwide. The film would receive six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards and received five nominations at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.
The film begins in 1986 and is set in Khandwa, India. The film introduces us to a young Saroo (portrayed by Sunny Pawar), a five-year-old boy who wants to prove to his older brother Guddu (portrayed by Abhishek Bharate) that he can work and provide for their poor family. His mother Kamla is busy raising the two boys and their young sister and works at a job hauling rocks.
One day, Guddu is planning to do some salvaging at a nearby train station and Saroo begs for his older brother to take him along. Guddu allows him and when they arrive to the station late at night, Saroo is too sleepy. So, Guddu tells his little brother to sleep on the bench, while he goes out to salvage.
When Saroo wakes up, he realizes that Guddu is not around and starts looking for him. He ends up going inside a train to look for his brother but is unable to find him. He goes back to sleep but this time inside the train. Too his surprise, when he wakes up, he finds out that he is locked in the train and the train is in motion.
Unfortunately, Saroo is unable to leave and for several days, the train takes him thousands of miles to Calcutta. When the doors open, unfortunately Saroo is unable to communicate because he speaks Hindu, while the locals speak Bengali. When he tries to tell the ticket counter that he needs to go back home to “Ginestlay”, no one understands.
Saroo is forced to sleep overnight in the streets but starts to learn of the dangers as many of the homeless children sleeping in the streets are kidnapped by child predators late at night. Saroo manages to escape and live in the streets, homeless and one day he finds a spoon buried in the dirt. As he goes into the city, he watches a young man eating soup with a spoon and starts to emulate him.
The young man takes Saroo to the police and they try to help him and hope by publishing his photo in a major newspaper that reaches all over India, his family may come to claim him. But not knowing where Saroo comes from, they put him up in an orphanage.
Eventually an Australian couple, Sue (portrayed by Nicole Kidman) and John Brierly (portrayed by David Wenham) are interested in adopting an Indian boy and moves Saroo from India to Hobart, Tasmania in 1987. And they raise Saroo with a lot of love and he eventually comes to love his new parents.
A year later, they adopt another boy named Mantosh, a boy who has a mental problem and tends to harm himself which puts a little strain on the Brierly’s.
Fastforward 20-years later and Saroo (portrayed by Dev Patel) is moving to Melbourne to study hotel management. He has a relationship with fellow student, Lucy (portrayed by Rooney Mara) and when they go to a party with other fellow Indian students, many are interested in how Saroo came to Australia and learn of how he was lost and was later adopted.
This triggers memories of Saroo’s mom and brother and the thought of them looking for their son haunts Saroo. He starts to use Google Earth and using information on the Internet to find where he may come from. All he knows is the two towers that he saw at a station, a field where his mother collected rocks and he becomes obsessed of finding where he came from and reuniting with his family.
But will Saroo ever find his biological family?
“Lion” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film features wonderful detail during closeup scenes and outdoor scenes. I didn’t notice any problems with artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Lion” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue, music and ambiance-driven. The surround channels do a good job of showcasing the train sounds through the surround channels, but for the most part, the film is dialogue and music-driven and focused on the front and center channels.
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Lion” comes with the following special features:
- Deleted Scenes – (4:36) Featuring three deleted scenes.
- Behind the Scenes Gallery – (22:16) Features “A Conversation with Saroo Brierly”, “A Conversation with Dev Patel”, “A Conversation with Nicole Kidman”, “A Conversation with Director Garth Davis” and “Making the Music”.
- “Never Give Up” Music Video – Performed by Sia – (3:44)
“Lion” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.
As a father, I can’t fathom the heartbreak of living life wondering if your child is alive or dead. As a child, separated from his biological family, one can only wonder the pain they experience and wondering if their family is looking for them.
Based on a true story about Saroo Brierly’s quest to find where he lived using modern technology and in hopes being reunited with his family. And hopefully accomplish this as the sight of his family searching for him or in pain of not knowing what had become of him, haunts him to the point that he is unable to stay in school or have any personal relationships.
He is clearly devastated, depressed but also determined. But he just needs a break because his search for his family is difficult because all he remembers are just a few things, such as a two towers near a station, helping his mother collect rocks in a big dirt field and how many days he was stuck on a train.
While his adoptive parents are supportive and love him wholeheartedly, he doesn’t get along with his brother Mantosh all that much (because of his mental issues and self-harming affects his parents, especially his mother) and his relationship with Lucy is troubled because of his obsession of finding his biological family.
The film is driven in two parts. The first part with a younger Saroo (portrayed by Sunny Pawar) and seeing this young-child survive in India, without speaking the native language of Bengali in Calcutta but also seeing the dangers of child predators. And seeing how this young boy was able to go from homeless in the streets to being adopted by a very good family in Australia.
The second part features an older Saroo who has no clue about his past life and unlike other Indians who can identify with their culture, Saroo never knew of his Indian culture but as he is asked about it frequently and going to a party with other Indian classmates, his memories of his past start to come back and he finds himself more determined to finding where he came from and driven to be reunited with his mom and family.
While the first part is no doubt powerful, as we see a child of innocence becoming a boy surviving in the streets, the second part is about the search and that is where the film focuses on Saroo’s well-being and the thoughts of his mom and brother searching for him, starting to take over his life. And because of this, affecting his relationships to the people most close to him.
The film is no doubt powerful, inspirational and moving. Because you know it’s a true story, you can’t help but root for young and adult Saroo. But be marveled by the journey that Saroo had to endure as a young child but also as an adult, using today’s modern technology to help him find his biological family and wondering if they are alive or if they still live in the same area or have moved away.
The Blu-ray features wonderful picture and lossless audio. There are also a few special features included with the real-life Saroo, the talent, the director and how the music was conceived for the film.
Needless to say, “Lion” is deserving for each of its award nominations, critical praise internationally and it’s a film that many people will no doubt find extraordinary and worth watching on Blu-ray.
“Lion” is recommended!
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