The Weinstein Company is on the prowl for an Oscar again. Lion, based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, is poised to capture hearts across the world as it tells the story of a man trying to find his way back home using only his fleeting memory, and Google Earth. Dev Patel and Rooney Mara star alongside newcomer Sunny Pawar, who will play the childhood self of Patel’s adult Saroo in a story where memory and technology race toward one another until they meet at home.
As an adult, Saroo (who lives in his adoptive parents’ country of Australia) begins an obsessive journey back to India in order to find his birth family, whom he was separated from at 5. As Saroo combs landscapes on Google Earth for familiar landmarks of his village, we watch Pawar play out the story of a younger Saroo, who is separated from his family after wandering onto a train in an effort to find his brother.
The films also stars Nicole Kidman and David Wenham as Brierley’s adoptive parents. Patel opened up to USA Today about the story, and why it made such an impact on him. “Google Earth is a far more advanced application now and simpler to navigate. When Saroo was searching, it was cloudy, square pixels and took ages to zoom in to look closely,” Patel said. “This became his completely-consuming obsession, finding this needle in a haystack. This man’s determination and perseverance was incredible.”
The earliest street shots on Google Earth may have offered less of a view at the village that Brierley spent his earliest years in, but as streets and crosswalks appeared on the screen, memories began clicking into place. The film also introduces Priyanka Bose as Brierley’s birth mother, who he was torn away from by sheer chance.
A film about family, mothers, sons, and identity, Lion looks every bit the Oscar contender as it should. It was filmed on location in both India and Australia, trailing back to familiar streets from Brierley’s memoir, A Long Way Home, Lion, which inspired the film. Patel’s breakout role in Slumdog Millionaire earned him a SAG Award, a Critics’ Choice Award, and a British Independent Film Award, so he’s no stranger to movies that demand such a high caliber of acting talent. With Mara and Kidman to bounce off of, as well as Pawar playing him in the mirror of his memory, this might be the role that brings home an Oscar for Patel.
Lion hits theaters on November 25, 2016.
Source: The Weinstein Company