Half of a fascinating real-life feel-good story is a decent start, but it’s not enough when the theoretically feel-good half is a soggy dud. The story opens in 1986, as 5-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is separated from his family in India, and winds up orphaned in Calcutta before he’s ultimately adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). That compelling first hour follows the lost boy through various perilous encounters on a tension-filled odyssey, but then we flash-forward 20 years, as a now-adult Saroo (Dev Patel) becomes obsessed with the possibility of finding his birth family, resulting in much angst with his girlfriend (a thoroughly wasted Rooney Mara). While it’s possible there’s a way to dramatize Saroo’s inner turmoil, as well as dramas surrounding his adoptive family, the entire second half simply falls dead, having rushed through every relationship so that there’s no emotional hook connecting the plot points. Patel’s performance becomes full of tics signifying his frustration with Google Earth searches and walls covered in maps and clues. Whatever investment a viewer might have had in the fate of that little boy never transfers to this moping adult.
Director: Garth Davis
Producer: Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Angie Fielder, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser, Andrew Fraser, Shahen Mekertichian and Daniel Levin
Cast: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sunny Pawar, Pallavi Sharda and Eamon Farren