The movie version of the tale is a story of two halves. The first tells the story of the young child that, for one reason or another, boards a train that sees him crossing to India's other side. He has no idea where he is and he doesn't even speak the local language. He does, however, manage to escape the doom of child molestation and ends up at an orphanage that, eventually, sees him adopted by an Aussie family (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham).
More than fifty minutes into the film we cross to its second half. The boy, now an Aussie through and through and a Melbourne university student, is coming to grips with the fact he actually had a family in India. I do wonder why Dev Patel was cast for the job, given the lack of shortage of Aussies of Indian origins. Anyway, supported by friends, including his girlfriend (Rooney Mara), he embarks on the seemingly impossible task of locating his original family using the tidbits of memories still in his head and the internet's mapping services.
On the upside, we do know this story has a happy ending. On the other, I cannot claim the movie has much more to offer beyond its authentic uplifting story. In all other ways, it follows the traditional extortion based film techniques that similar dramas have deployed for decades. I will also argue the film is significantly longer than it should have been, especially that second half.
Overall: Lion offers interesting insight into India. Most of all, it's got an ace of a story to tell. I’ll be a bit harsh, though, given this imperfect movie’s ample uplift-ifcation, and give it 3 out of 5 crabs.