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Citizenship

'Lion': A Heart-Wrenching Story of Adoption & Global Inequality

Mark Rogers © Long Way Home Productions 2015

Global Citizen was lucky enough to host a screening of "Lion," a film starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman about an Indian boy's search for his birth mother, from whom he was separated from at age 5 after mistakenly taking a train across the country and eventually being adopted by a family in Australia. Rather than write a traditional review of the film, which has been nominated for a handful of Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress, for Patel and Kidman's work, we decided to host a chat about the film on Slack. What follows is a transcript of that conversation.


Cassie Carothers [12:47 PM]
joined #lion, and invited @meghan_werft, @hilary.stingley, @phineas.rueckert, @joemccarthy7, @kincairm, @sisto, @caroline.dollman

Cassie Carothers [1:02 PM]
OK — Let's get this party started. Let's start with your basic assessment of the movie — did you or did you not like it, and why.

Caroline Dollman [1:04 PM]
I loved it — I thought it told an amazing story about both sides of a complicated adoption process.

Phineas Rueckert [1:05 PM]
I would say that this film should be required viewing for Global Citizens right now — at a time when we have political leaders advocating for closed borders and disavowing the importance of a global perspective, it was refreshing to watch a movie that is clearly a rejection of this worldview.

Colleen Curry [1:05 PM]
It was somewhere between okay and pretty good for me. The beginning was compelling, with Saroo getting lost and the way it was shot, so you were kind of spatially disoriented but focused on his face/his being scared and confused. The scenery was really incredible. But the middle dragged a bit, and I didn't find the Google Earth search that compelling, and Nicole Kidman's character was kind of irritating.

Cassie Carothers [1:05 PM]
Overall, I really liked the film. I thought it was beautifully shot and the story was compelling, especially knowing that it was true. It recognized cultural differences without falling into cliches.

Ryan Kincaid [1:07 PM]
It was really beautiful, and little Saroo was so cute. The Jacob Tremblay of the 2017 awards circuit.

lion_markrogers-2680_lg.jpgImage: Mark Rogers © Long Way Home Productions 2015

Read More: Why 'Lion' Is the Film We All Need to Watch Right Now

Alexandra Sistovaris  [1:07 PM]
I thought it was incredible! The imagery was beautiful. + The little kid just made me melt. So cute.

Cassie Carothers [1:07 PM]
Little Saroo was my favorite. I wish he could have played Saroo throughout the film.

Colleen Curry [1:08 PM]
The one thing from the middle I thought was well done was dramatizing the longing that he had to find his family. That could have come off a lot cheesier.

Cassie Carothers [1:08 PM]
Yes, completely agree @colleencurry -- he just like, walked there.

Cassie Carothers [1:08 PM]
@caroline.dollman and @colleencurry You were both in India recently ... Did the film bring up any PTSD-like emotions?

Colleen Curry [1:08 PM]
I think I've fully dealt with my India PTSD  & was happy to revisit it. 

Cassie Carothers [1:09 PM]
I think they sanitized the reality of India a bit. Presumably they lived in a slum as children, but that didn't look like the slums we visited.

Colleen Curry [1:10 PM]
Yeah the train station I thought captured the noise/crowds/busy-ness of India.

Caroline Dollman [1:10 PM]
No but the bit at the start when they came and captured all the kids was sad to watch.

Read More: Here Are the Oscar Nominations We’re Most Excited About in 2017

Cassie Carothers [1:11 PM]
True, I'd forgotten the child trafficking angle. So glad Little Saroo had those instincts to run away.

Alexandra Sistovaris [1:12 PM]
The child trafficking angle was really scary. Really goes to show how "gangs" go about stealing children.

Meghan Werft [1:10 PM]
Adding in - I thought the film was beautifully strung together in telling the story of the complexity of adoption. It really captured the fragility and vulnerability of Saroo carried from India to Australia. I also thought it touched on how love is so boundless and fear really the only limit to love and family. Agree the middle could have had more going on.

Caroline Dollman [1:11 PM]
I agree @meghan_werft it highlights how complex international adoption is.

Hilary Stingley [1:11 PM]
I also thought it was very interesting when his adoptive mother told him that they could have had children but chose not to.
As a woman that really made me think about mothering in a different way.

Meghan Werft [1:14 PM]
How do we feel about his relationship with Lucy (Rooney Mara)?

Phineas Rueckert [1:14 PM]
It felt a bit contrived. Like they were using her as a way of allowing Saroo someone to project onto

lion_markrogers_b9o9906-edit_lg 3.jpgImage: Mark Rogers © Long Way Home Productions 2015

Hilary Stingley [1:15 PM]
I don't think they really showed it develop enough - so it was confusing when they had to break up and make it all intense. Because we never even saw it as it began to become what it was.

Read More: Meet Saroo and Sue, the Real People Behind 'Lion'

Alexandra Sistovaris [1:15 PM]
Yes. not much development there (relationship with Rooney) in my opinion.

Hilary Stingley [1:15 PM]
Well I think people projecting onto their significant other is very real — but I didn't even really buy them being in love before it all came to a climax

Cassie Carothers [1:15 PM]
I agree — I thought that relationship needed to be either more central to the story or less central, but it was just kind of on the side and not significant.

Colleen Curry [1:15 PM]
Yeah, she felt like she was only there so we weren't watching Saroo look @ a computer for an hour.

Cassie Carothers [1:16 PM]
Ha yes, good point, @colleencurry.

Hilary Stingley [1:16 PM]
Hahaha

Meghan Werft [1:16 PM]
Hahaha I actually think I like that part better when he was using Google Earth.

lion_markrogers-5060_(2)_lg 2.jpgImage: Mark Rogers © Long Way Home Productions 2015

Colleen Curry [1:16 PM]
That said, it gave me something to hang onto during that part. Like, we all knew he was eventually going to find his mom via Google Earth. I did not know what would happen with Lucy.

Cassie Carothers [1:16 PM]
I thought the relationship with Saroo's adopted brother was interesting. It didn't sugarcoat the complications of adoption and it added a complexity that we didn't get with Saroo.

Alexandra Sistovaris [1:17 PM]
I did like how Nicole Kidman tells younger Saroo that "he can ask all the questions he wants" really giving him that option to be open about his past/roots/parents but that he still struggles with telling her (Nicole) that he is looking for his biological family.

lion_markrogers-3472_(1)_lg.jpgImage: Mark Rogers © Long Way Home Productions 2015

Caroline Dollman [1:18 PM]
The real footage of them at the end was the best part for me.

Meghan Werft [1:18 PM]
Same!

Cassie Carothers [1:18 PM]
I loved the real footage -- I also thought they buried the fact that Saroo's older brother died the night he was lost.

Cassie Carothers [1:18 PM]
That could have been a little more central to the movie, especially since they used flashbacks quite a bit.

Caroline Dollman [1:18 PM]
I agree @cassie.carothers they could have told us more about the bro. That was the saddest bit.

Meghan Werft [1:19 PM]
@cassie.carothers yes that seemed so central that it happened that night

Joe McCarthy [1:20 PM]
I thought the beginning scenes were powerful and beautifully shot, but the middle section w/ dev patel was a total drag, drained of the struggle/joy of the India sections. And the Google Earth search felt lifeless to me.

Hilary Stingley [1:20 PM]
I have adopted brothers from different families and have noticed that sometimes when people find that out there's a feeling of them being less of siblings because they aren't blood related

lion_markrogers-437_lg 2.jpgImage: Mark Rogers © Long Way Home Productions 2015

Alexandra Sistovaris [1:20 PM]
Yes. They could have included more "comparisons" between his relationship with his biological brother vs his adoptive brother

Meghan Werft [1:21 PM]
@joemccarthy7 disagree on the Google Earth. I thought it captured his anger and frustration at that point so well and the slow build up to finding home reflected how long he’d been searching.

Hilary Stingley [1:21 PM]
I agree @meghan_werft - I think the role of technology is huge. If technology had been more advanced, for example, he might have never stayed lost in the first place.

Joe McCarthy [1:22 PM]
The way that the search was inspired, the way that the search unfolded, and the ultimate locating of the spot? All of it felt contrived to me...but maybe that's true to life.

Hilary Stingley [1:23 PM]
Definitely agree when it comes to the ultimate locating of the spot.

Phineas Rueckert [1:23 PM]
It would have been nice to have had more insight to his interior turmoil before starting the search. If that did indeed exist, and was not completely supressed.

Hilary Stingley [1:23 PM]
Right - it seemed to just suddenly come out over that group class discussion one night.

Colleen Curry [1:23 PM]
And how he hid in his house and wouldn't talk to anyone while he was searching? Even if it was true to life, it felt not quite believable.

Meghan Werft [1:23 PM]
Ah I see, yeah hard to believe you would remember all that. It just seems so sad that it was his only resource. Thinking about taking that on alone seems impossible to me.