LION: For small children, there’s nothing more terrifying than to be lost and separated from home and family. It happens to an impoverished little Indian boy (Sunny Pawar) who loses his older brother (Abhishek Bharate) and through a series of wrong turns boards a train that takes him to the opposite end of the country where he knows no one and can’t speak the language. Luke Davies’ screenplay follows the resourceful child who becomes one of the thousands of street urchins forced to beg and forage for food while literally living and sleeping in the “black holes” of Calcutta. But his fortunes significantly turn when he’s adopted by an upper class Australian couple (Nicole Kidman, David Wenham) who are able to provide him with opportunity and privilege. It is during the latter half of the film that the now grown Hindi “orphan” (Dev Patel) becomes rather abruptly obsessed with reconnecting with his childhood home as the movie absorbs itself in his search. Cinematographer Greig Fraser shoots the opening sequences of the film from the child’s point of view that captures his confusion and panic at being alone in a strange place. The narrative involving Patel’s (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) relationship with his adoptive mother who understands his desire is emotionally powerful and Kidman (See CLOSING CREDITS.) always appears to do her best work when she sheds most traces of her glamorous persona. Other characters, like Wenham’s (300), go undeveloped as well as a storyline related to a “damaged” adopted brother (Divian Ladwa) that isn’t fleshed out as it should have been. Despite some blatant promotion for Google Earth, LION is well-directed by Garth Davis with emphasis on telling a story of determination, fate and the ties that bind us all to home plus the need to feel a sense of belonging to where you came from. CRITIC’S GRADE: B

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some other good movies starring Nicole Kidman – DEAD CALM (1988), TO DIE FOR (1995), MOULIN ROUGE! (2001)*, THE OTHERS (2001), THE HOURS (2002)**, COLD MOUNTAIN (2003), DOGVILLE (2003), THE HUMAN STAIN (2003), BIRTH (2004), THE GOLDEN COMPASS (2007), RABBIT HOLE (2010)*, PADDINGTON (2014), LION (2016)***

*Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress

**Academy Award Winner for Best Actress

***Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress