Lion

This is another film that is partly about a child growing up in a fairly poor country (in economic terms) who must endure a tough upbringing alone on the street, and yes, it involves child trafficking and other exploitative criminal activity – see also Trash, City Of God, Slumdog Millionaire, The Golden Dream et al. Stories like this understandably strike an emotional chord with adult audiences around the globe, and while I wouldn’t want to dismiss the very real issue of child welfare out of hand, there is always a danger that the proliferation of this kind of movie – a knock-on effect of previous financial successes as much as anything else – means that cinematic representation of certain countries or communities is unduly warped and reductive; I imagine that distributors and studios hoping to make a quick buck on the international market are already looking for the next Lion or Slumdog Millionaire – two films mostly or entirely set in India and made by white, western filmmakers – rather than, I dunno, a homemade Indian psychological drama or romance as the next potentially big crossover hit. Anyway, this has good acting, familiar faces (Western Directors Shalt Not Make A Movie Set In India Unless Dev Patel Is In The Cast) and it’s hard not to get swept along by the emotional ebbs and flows. I had a lump in my throat by the end, which is what the movie sets out to accomplish; it’s heartwarming, and I’m pleased for Saroo Brierley, whose life story is fascinating enough to be made into a movie, though I’m fairly sure the world would be better off if films about child trafficking without the silver lining also got made and distributed internationally. (***½)