Lion (2016 film)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Lion (2016 film).png
Australian release poster
Directed byGarth Davis
Screenplay byLuke Davies
Based onA Long Way Home
by Saroo Brierley
Produced by
CinematographyGreig Fraser
Edited byAlexandre de Franceschi
Music by
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 10 September 2016 (2016-09-10) (TIFF)
  • 25 November 2016 (2016-11-25) (United States)
  • 19 January 2017 (2017-01-19) (Australia)
  • 20 January 2017 (2017-01-20) (United Kingdom)
Running time
118 minutes[2]
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
Budget$12 million[3]
Box office$140.3 million[1]

Lion is a 2016 Australian biographical drama film directed by Garth Davis (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Luke Davies based on the 2013 non-fiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. The film stars Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, and Nicole Kidman, as well as Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. It tells the true story of how Brierley, 25 years after being separated from his family in India, sets out to find them. It is a joint production between Australia and the United Kingdom.

The film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2016, was given a limited release in North America on 25 November 2016, by The Weinstein Company before opening generally on 6 January 2017. It was released in Australia on 19 January 2017 and in the United Kingdom on 20 January 2017.

Lion was well-received by critics, with praise for the acting (particularly from Patel and Kidman), emotional weight, visuals, cinematography and screenplay; it received six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Kidman), and Best Adapted Screenplay. It won two BAFTA Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Patel) and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also commercially successful, making $140 million worldwide, becoming one of the highest-grossing Australian films of all time.


In 1986, five-year-old Saroo lives with his elder brother Guddu, his mother, and his baby sister in Khandwa, India. Guddu and Saroo steal coal from freight trains to trade for milk and food. Saroo accompanies Guddu to work overnight, and they arrive at a nearby train station, where Saroo falls asleep on a bench and is unable to find Guddu upon waking up. He searches for him on an empty train, only to fall asleep in one of the compartments and awake sometime later to find the train in motion and the doors locked. After several days the train arrives in faraway Calcutta where Saroo does not understand the local Bengali language. He tries to obtain a ticket home, but the attendant does not recognise the name of his village, which Saroo says is "Ganestalay".[4] He spends the night in the station with some street children, but is forced to flee when a group of men try to kidnap them.

Saroo continues to wander around the city before meeting Noor, a seemingly friendly woman who takes him back to her apartment and tells him that a man named Rama will help him find his way home. Saroo escapes, sensing that Noor and Rama have sinister intentions, and evades Noor when she chases after him. After two months of living near the Howrah Bridge, Saroo is taken to the police and placed into an orphanage when authorities are unable to trace his family.

An advertisement about Saroo is placed in several local newspapers, but no one responds, though an Australian couple has become interested in adopting him. Saroo is taught basic English and moves to Hobart, Tasmania in 1987, under the care of Sue and John Brierley, where he slowly starts to settle into his new lifestyle. A year later, they adopt another boy, Mantosh, who has trouble adjusting to his new home and suffers from rage and self-harm.

Twenty years later, Saroo, now a young man, moves to Melbourne to study hotel management and starts a relationship with American student Lucy. During a meal with some Indian friends at their home, Saroo remembers that he is not from Calcutta and that he has been lost for more than twenty years. He reveals this to his friends, who suggest he use Google Earth to search for his hometown. Saroo commences his search, but over time disconnects from Lucy and his adoptive family, overwhelmed by the thought of what his biological family must feel while he has been missing.

Saroo visits his adoptive mother, whose health is deteriorating, and learns that she is not infertile, but chose to help children in need through adoption. One evening, while continuing his search, he recognises the rock formations where his mother worked and finds the area where he lived: the Ganesh Talai neighbourhood of the Khandwa district. He finally tells his adoptive mother about his search and she fully supports his efforts.

Saroo returns to his hometown and, with the help of a local English speaker, has an emotional reunion with his biological mother and sister. He also learns that Guddu was hit and killed by an oncoming train the night they were separated. Saroo's mother never moved away from the village, as she never gave up hope that her missing son would one day return. The film ends with captions about the real Saroo's return to India in February 2012. Photos of the real Australian family are shown, as well as footage of Saroo introducing Sue to his biological mother, who deeply appreciates Sue's care for her son. Saroo later learned that he had spent years mispronouncing his own name, which was actually Sheru, meaning "lion".



This Australian film[5] is based on Saroo Brierley's memoir A Long Way Home.

While writing the screenplay, Luke Davies acknowledged the challenges of adapting a book that is primarily about an online search:

"It was finding the right balance of the big cinema "no-no", which is that screens on screens is not good. Yet we felt very strongly that our situation was quite different from the usual procedural crime drama TV model, where there are a whole bunch of actors that are crammed with exposition-heavy dialogue pointing at computer screens. We felt that we were a million miles away from that. The relationship with the technology was instigated by a purely and deeply emotional drive and desire to make it to the end of the myth – to find wholeness with the reunification with the lost mother and to find out who you are."[6]

In October 2014, Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman were cast in the film for the lead roles, although they were nominated in supporting categories.[7] In January 2015, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Priyanka Bose, Tannishtha Chatterjee, and Deepti Naval joined the cast.[8] In April 2015, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, and Divian Ladwa also joined the cast.[9] Pallavi Sharda also joined the film's cast to play Saroo's friend.[10] Hauschka and Dustin O'Halloran composed the film's score.[11]


Principal photography on the film began in January 2015 in Kolkata, India.[8] In mid-April, filming moved to Australia, in Melbourne and then to several locations in Tasmania, including Hobart.[12] Kidman filmed her scenes in Australia.[9][13]


Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka teamed up to write the score.[citation needed] Sia wrote the song "Never Give Up" especially for the film. Also included in the film are the songs "The Sun, The Sand And The Sea" from songwriter Jimmy Radcliffe and "Urvasi Urvasi" by A R Rahman.[14] The film includes other songs from artists such as Hercules and Love Affair ("Blind"), Mondo Rock ("State of the Heart"), Enigma ("The Rivers of Belief") and Picturetone Pete and Jimmy Radcliffe ("The Sun the Sand and the Sea"). The ‘Disco King’ legendary Bappi Lahiri's iconic track ‘Come Closer’ from the movie Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki has been picturised on Dev Patel in Australia.[citation needed]


The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2016.[15][16][17] It served as the opening night film at the Zurich Film Festival on 22 September 2016.[18] It also screened at the London Film Festival on 12 October 2016,[19] and at the Hamptons International Film Festival on 7 and 8 October 2016.[20] The film was released in the United States on 25 November 2016,[21] in Australia on 19 January 2017,[22] and in the United Kingdom on 20 January 2017.[23] A special red carpet charity event for the Tasmanian premiere of Lion was attended by the film's subject, Saroo Brierley and his family at the State Cinema in December 2016.[24]

Lion was made available on Digital HD on 28 March 2017, and was then followed by a release on Blu-ray and DVD on 11 April 2017.[25][26] The film debuted at No. 10 on the Top 20 NPD VideoScan chart.[27]


Box office[edit]

Lion grossed $51 million in the United States and Canada and $88.3 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $140.1 million, against a production budget of $12 million.[1]

In its limited opening weekend in the United States and Canada, the film made $123,360 from four theatres (an average of $30,840, the highest of the weekend).[28] On the weekend of 17–19 March 2017, Lion crossed the $50 million mark at the North American box-office, becoming the fifth 2016 film among the Academy Award for Best Picture nominees to surpass this threshold.[29]

In Australia, it opened at number one with $3.18 million, the biggest opening ever for an Australian indie film, and the fifth biggest debut for an Australian film overall.[30] It grossed $29.6 million, becoming the fifth highest-grossing Australian film ever at the Australian box office.[31]

Critical response[edit]

Lion received generally positive reviews, with the performances of Patel and Kidman being praised.[32][33][34] On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 84%, based on 270 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 7.30/10. The critical consensus reads: "Lion's undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre."[35] On Metacritic the film has a normalised score of 69 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[36] PostTrak reported that 92% of audience members gave the film a rating of either "excellent" or "very good".[28]

Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman's performances garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

Brian Truitt of USA Today wrote: "The finale is manipulative in every way, squeezing out the emotions of the audience. But Lion's well-plotted narrative and thoughtful characters suck you in so much that the journey there is totally worth it."[37] Novelist and critic Salman Rushdie thought highly of the film stating that while he often lacked interest in films nominated for an Oscar, this year he rooted for Lion, believing that "I would like it to win in every category it's nominated for and in most of the categories it isn't nominated for as well." Noting that he wept "unstoppably" while viewing the film, Rushdie said that he is "frequently suspicious of Western films set in contemporary India, and so one of the things that most impressed me about Lion was the authenticity and truth and unsparing realism of its Indian first half. Every moment of the little boy's journey rings true – not an instant of exoticism – and as a result his plight touches us all. Greig Fraser's cinematography portrays the beauty of the country, both honestly and exquisitely [...] Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, in the film's Australian second half, give wonderful performances too".[38]

Some critics mentioned that parts of the film move along at a slow pace. For example, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker wrote: "... based on a true story; though wrenching, there is barely enough of it to fill the dramatic space, and the second half is a slow and muted affair after the Dickensian punch of the first."[39]


Lion received six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Kidman) and Best Adapted Screenplay, but did not win in any of the categories. It did, however, win two BAFTA Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Patel) and Best Adapted Screenplay. At Australia's 7th AACTA Awards, it won all twelve awards that it was nominated for, including Best Film.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Lion (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Lion (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Lion, Starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara, Notches Four Golden Globe Nominations (Including Best Picture) and Zurich Film Festival Diversity in Film Award". Vanity Fair. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  4. ^ Jennings, Ken (27 April 2015). "How Google Maps Helped One Man Find His Long-Lost Family". Conde Nast Traveler. Conde Nast]. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  5. ^ Buckmaster, Luke (24 February 2017). "Oscars 2017: Tanna and Lion bring heart to Hollywood in landmark year for Australian film". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 26 February 2017. two Australian films have been nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards: Lion and Hacksaw Ridge.
  6. ^ McKittrick, Christopher (12 December 2016). "Lion: A Powerful, Primal Childhood Fable". Creative Screenwriting. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  7. ^ Roxborough, Scott (30 October 2014). "AFM: Dev Patel Attached to Star in The Weinstein Co.'s 'Lion' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b Frater, Patrick (14 January 2015). "Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel to Roar in India-set Survival Tale 'Lion'". Variety. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  9. ^ a b Barraclough, Leo (7 April 2015). "Rooney Mara Joins Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel in 'Lion'". Variety. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Pallavi Sharda in Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman starrer 'Lion'". Indian Express m. 22 August 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Dustin O'Halloran & Hauschka Scoring Garth Davis's Lion". Film Music Reporter. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  12. ^ Rizzo, Cailey (January 2016). "Where 'Lion' Shot All Those Incredible Tasmanian Scenes". Travel + Leisure. TIME Inc. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Lion: Tasmanian farmer hosts Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel for filming of Saroo Brierley story". 14 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  14. ^ Helman, Peter (10 November 2016). "Sia – Never Give Up". Stereogum. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  15. ^ Raup, Jordan (26 July 2016). "TIFF 2016 Line-Up Includes 'Nocturnal Animals,' 'La La Land,' 'American Pastoral,' and More". The Film Stage - Your Spotlight on Cinema. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Toronto To Open With 'The Magnificent Seven'; 'La La Land', 'Deepwater Horizon' Among Galas & Presentations". Deadline Hollywood. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Lion". Toronto International Film Festival.
  18. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (29 August 2016). "'Lion' To Open Zurich Fest; Canal Plus Vet Alduy Joins Fox TV Distribution – Global Briefs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  19. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (17 August 2016). "Weinstein Co's 'Lion' To Roar As London Film Festival Gala Presentation". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  20. ^ "Sloan Science & Film". Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (1 March 2016). "Weinstein Co.'s 'The Founder' Moves To August; 'Lion' To Roar During Thanksgiving Week". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Lion". Transmission Films. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Lion". Launching Films. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  24. ^ Mather, Anne (7 December 2016). "'This is going to be big at the box office'". Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  25. ^ Lion (2016) DVD Release Dates, Retrieved 23 June 2017
  26. ^ "11 April 2017: Blu-ray, Digital HD & DVD This Week". 11 April 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Force Remains With 'Star Wars' for DVD, Blu-ray Disc Sales". Variety. 20 April 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  28. ^ a b Brooks, Brian (27 November 2016). "'Lion' Takes Big Share of Thanksgiving Weekend; 'Manchester' & 'Loving' Show Gusto – Specialty Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  29. ^ Brooks, Brian (19 March 2017). "Weinstein Company's 'Lion' B.O. Cume Surpasses $50M This Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  30. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (26 January 2017). "'Lion' Roars At Australia Box Office As Offshore Rollout Continues". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  31. ^ "Top 100 Australian Feature Films of All Time". Screen Australia. Archived from the original on 8 March 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  32. ^ Styles, Aja (11 September 2016). "Nicole Kidman says adopting helped as Lion movie gets early mixed reviews". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  33. ^ Montgomery, Daniel (23 November 2016). "'Lion' reviews: Dev Patel & Nicole Kidman give 'knockout performances'". GoldDerby. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  34. ^ Macdonald, Moira (22 December 2016). "'Lion' review: Heart-tugging film roars with strong performances". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  35. ^ "Lion (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  36. ^ "Lion Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  37. ^ Truitt, Brian (24 November 2016). "Review: Epic quest roars to life with Dev Patel in true story 'Lion'". USA Today. McLean, Virginia. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  38. ^ Rushdie, Salman (22 February 2017). "Salman Rushdie Extols the Immigrant's Struggle of 'Lion': Guest Column". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  39. ^ Lane, Anthony (3 January 2017). "Movies: Lion". The New Yorker. New York. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  40. ^ "Winners & Nominees". AACTA Awards. Retrieved 8 February 2023.

External links[edit]