I am so glad I took my wife to the movies for Valentine’s Day. We had a great drive to Texarkana, a wonderful movie I want to tell you about and a great dinner. Red meat is a must for me on such occasions and I got a big old steak and brought part of it home. I had a piece of it for breakfast with an egg on top, just like in the cowboy movies. But, as to that movie we saw:
Most of us like “coming of age” or “initiation” stories because we have all been there so to speak. Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are such timeless tales as they convey a sense of innocence amid the sophisticated. We like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Goodman Brown because his naiveté bumps up against absolute evil—even in people he thought were moral leaders.
Maybe this fascination with initiation stories is what made me like the Australian-made film called Lion so much. Based upon a true story, this movie depicts the plight of a small rural boy in Northern India who gets lost, gets locked into a train and ends up on the streets of Calcutta. As he associates with other street children there, we see the terrible plight of homeless children. At the end of the story, there is projected on the screen information showing that 80,000 children go missing in India annually. This movie individualizes the devastating problem in a deeply gripping way.
Once the child is “rescued” he is placed in a shabby and ill-administered orphanage for a while before he is adopted by a nice couple in Tasmania. Nicole Kidman deserves every acting award out there for her penetrating performance as the child’s adoptive mother. In her reserved Australian way, she conveys the heights of joy, the depths of disappointment and the quintessence of anger. I have never seen such credible acting in a movie.
Not to spoil the movie for you, I will convey that it ends happily—well, in a bittersweet way. I think the fact that it is a true story made it more poignant, but it was the initiation factor, the coming of age factor that drew me into the action and kept me there. Also, it is the first movie ever to make Google Maps a hero.
It is a story about brotherly love and about compassion triumphing over poverty. It is about the will and hardihood to survive in the face of seeming insurmountable odds. For that reason alone, it is worth far more than the price of a ticket. I was struck by the fact that Hollywood did not have much to do with this film, if anything. It was Australian made. There was no crudity, no nudity, no lasciviousness and no bad language. Hallelujah.