Here’s a film which combines narrative in two countries. In this case, India and Australia.
Three actors shine in this film: Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)—the grown-up Saroo; the child Saroo played by 5-year old Sunny Pawar, a non-English speaker when discovered, wonderfully cast from 2000 native boys of India; Nicole Kidman who played Saroo’s adoptive mother in Australia.
The film is based on a true story by Saroo Brierly from his book called A Long Way Home. The fascinating autobiographical story, as presented in the film, begins with 5-year-old Saroo happily working to help his mother do her job carrying rocks. He becomes lost looking for his brother, gets stuck on a train he can’t get off of and ends up a few thousand miles away.
After some exciting adventures he is adopted by an Australian couple and goes to Australia for the latter part of the movie until, finally… well you’ll see, if you see the film.
The first part of the film is great: the boy, the direction, the camerawork, etc. The music was good and garnered an award nomination, but I think it should have been Indian music in the first half. India’s music is so much a part of Indian culture and atmosphere that it’s a shame it was not prominent in the film. It would have emotionally supported the 25-year-old Saroo’s desire to come home.
The Australia part of the film was relatively boring and lacking in meaning. Yes, there was quite a break from the past in India. Everything was different in Australia. The head-banging brother may have been part of Saroo’s story, but oh, so sad. I wished they had left him out of the movie. Was that mentally disturbed or brain-injured brother in the book by the author? Sometimes trying to be true to the book (which I haven’t read yet) deprives the movie of its essential purity.
The film did show the need to go back to one’s origins to find meaning in life.
The Australia segment gave one the feeling of spiritual poverty in a life that was materially comfortable, and “normal.”
The final part of the film, however, was great. It brought some degree of closure, but I left with the feeling that there was more to say.