"Lion is the first movie that brought me to tears, and that's why you need to see it."

It’s rare I walk out of a cinema feeling like the past two hours of my life were well-spent.

I’m usually overflowing with regret. And an $8 choc-top.

Walking out of Lion, however, that feeling of regret was notably absent.

In its place? Hope. Curiosity. And heartbreak.

Lion tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, who was accidentally separated from his family as a toddler in the tiny Indian town of Ganesh Talai, and was then adopted by a couple in Tasmania.

He didn’t know the name of his home town; didn’t know where it was; and didn’t know how to get back.

He even pronounced his own name wrong. Against all the odds, however – in 2012 – Saroo tracked his birth family down. 26 years after being lost… he was found.

Sunny Pawar plays a young Saroo Brierley in the film. Image via The Weinstein Company.

The drama is no simple story of 'lost and found', however. It runs profoundly deeper.

Everything about Saroo's story is unspeakably poignant: the love he has for his birth mother, who he helps lift rocks in order to feed their poor family; the guilt he feels for his brother, who was in charge of taking care of him the night he was lost; and the overwhelming sense of deracination clouding his every thought as a brown-skinned, Aussie-speaking, twenty-something with no sense of where he's really from.

The cinematography is mind-boggling. Profoundly vast, birds-eye-view shots of India are interspersed with Google Maps footage as Saroo digitally scours every inch of the Indian landscape.


Mia Freedman saw Lion with two of her kids, aged eight and 11. She shares her thoughts with Jessie Stephens and Monique Bowley on Mamamia Out Loud.

"The only thing you could do is just try and survive a day at a time", Brierley, now 35, told People. 

After spending months homeless in Calcutta, Saroo ended up at an overcrowded orphanage.

It's from there that he was adopted by a well-off couple in Tasmania, Australia (played in the film by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham).

More than 20 years later - despite growing up in perfect harmony with his new family - Saroo needed closure. He had to find his mother; he had to find his brother; and had to let them know he's alive and okay and he loves them... that it wasn't their fault.

His journey to find them - first online, and eventually physically - is simply heart-melting.

Dev Patel was cast as Saroo in the film. And while attempting to better understand the character, he developed a relationship with Saroo in real-life.

Saroo Brierley (left) with Sunny Pawar (middle) and Dev Patel (right), who play young and old Saroo respectively.

"“He’s so lovely,” Dev Patel told People. “We met in Australia, and he is so generous. Saroo’s the epitome of just a fiercely driven young man. And he has an incredible memory, down to the eggs I ordered at that meal, the clothes I was wearing, everything. He remembers crystal-clear."


According to Filmink, "Lion has racked up the fifth biggest domestic opening for an Australian film of all time, and the biggest ever opening for an Australian independent film."

To be honest, I can see why.

I don't cry in movies. It's not a rule I have, or anything... rather, I'm very rarely emotionally moved to the point of tears.

Lion, however, shook me to pieces... because Saroo's story is a heart-rending one. And boy does director Garth Davis handle it magically.

The despair of being ripped from home at age five; the desperation of being homeless in a foreign place; the shame of leaving his adoptive parents who raised him in Tasmania to seek out his real family; and the ecstasy of finally tracking them down.

Dev Patel brings forth a thousand emotions in his depiction of Saroo.

The film isn't just for adults, either. It's a family drama at heart. The cinema in which I saw the film was packed: kids as young as eight watched alongside those older than 80. All were equally moved.

I'm dancing around the details, I know. But to be honest, I don't want to share them with you. I don't have the vocabulary.

The merit of this film lies well beyond what I could ever put into words. It grips you emotionally. And for two beautiful hours, it doesn't let you go.

Lion is now showing at cinemas across Australia.