The true story of Saroo Brierley is something that would be dismissed as ludicrously far-fetched were it to be conjured up in a fictional Hollywood biopic, so it’s hardly surprising that after he documented his experiences in the 2013 book A Long Way Home that a film adaptation has seen the light of day. A young Indian boy who became stranded thousands of miles away from home, only to be placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by an Australian couple, he later used a combination of Google Earth and his own ingenuity to track down his mother and his home town, an extraordinary sequence of events which are skilfully and emotionally portrayed here.

To an extent, this is a film of two halves, and the opening reel set in India is a profoundly impressive portrayal of child poverty and abandonment, told with a remarkable economy of storytelling – there is barely any dialogue, and the Dickensian conditions of 1980s Calcutta are vividly and movingly sketched. Once the focus shifts to its adult protagonist in Tasmania, things adopt a slower, more traditional and emotionally manipulative tone, but this is perhaps inevitable given the true story the filmmakers are telling. Ultimately, this is a powerful tale of lost and found identities, with something resonant to say about our more interconnected world and how it can bring people closer together.

A genuinely remarkable true story that deserves the wider audience it's now getting9
The opening hour set in India, almost wordless, brutal and brilliant10
A second half which moves slowly towards the inevitable7
Given the restriction of real events, such an approach isn't really avoidable8
The things this film has to say about modern identity in a globalised world are genuinely profound9
Bechdel Test passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
Bechdel test failures
  • I'm actually not sure if they only talk about men or not
9Overall Score

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