When it comes to holiday movies, there are a few go-to classics, from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to Love, Actually to, well, The Holiday. But there are also plenty of less popular movies out there that deserve to be watched during the holiday season, which is why you should watch Lion on Netflix this December. Full disclosure: there is no real Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year's Eve scene in Lion. However, the film, which came out last year, is thematically the perfect holiday movie, and it's just what you and your family needs in 2017.
Lion tells the true story of Saroo, a young man who was adopted by an Australian couple from India when he was just five years old. As a 20-something, Saroo begins to remember details of his life before he was adopted, discovering that he wasn't an orphan, he was a lost boy. The film is told in two parts: Saroo's childhood in India and the events that took him away from home, and Saroo's adulthood in Australia and his journey to discover his roots. It's not only a touching story about self discovery, it's also a beautiful film about family and the many different forms family can take. (Yes, it will make you cry, but, don't worry, Lion has an uplifting ending that is 100 percent holiday-approved.)
The holiday season is all about family — the one that you choose or the one that you're born with. It's a time to gather together and spend days in each other's company, eating food and expressing gratitude and love. Lion is actually pretty much about the same thing. In the film, Saroo has two families, the one that he was born into and the one who raised him. How he reconciles both of those is one of the main points of tension in the movie, and it's something that a lot of families can relate to, be they blended or not. Can one have two families at once without hurting one of them? By asking these questions, Saroo's story expands what some audiences might see as the traditional family makeup (i.e. mom, dad, kids). And during the holidays, when our culture places so much emphasis on the importance of family gatherings, it's important to remember that no two families are alike. At the end of the day, family is what you make it.
But, Lion's family theme is not the only thing that makes it the perfect holiday movie. The film also tackles themes of tolerance and acceptance — two things that we all should keep in mind this December. As a young boy from India, Saroo is adopted and raised by white parents — he straddles two worlds. His decision to search for his biological family becomes a way for him to rediscover his heritage, and he struggles with balancing both his Indian roots and his Australian upbringing.
Today in American politics, the issues of tolerance and immigration are fraught with controversy. President Trump's travel ban targeted towards Muslim countries is still being debated in the courts. The executive ordered ban, which preys on citizens' fear of immigrants, was first announced right as Lion was being released in theaters in 2016. Filmmakers took an ad out in The LA Times taking a stand against the ban, noting that, once enforced, the travel ban could potentially be used against the film's young star, Sunny Pawar, who plays a young Saroo. "[Lion] is about unification and bringing people together," Dev Patel, who starred as adult Saroo, told People at the time, noting that the ban was "really terrible."
Just a few days before Thanksgiving, the Trump administration reportedly asked the Supreme Court to get involved in approving the ban. According to a report form The Hill, the White House is asking that the Court overturn a Maryland district court, which put a temporary stop on many crucial aspects of the travel ban. With the travel ban still very much in play, it's important to remember that these big policies matter, even if they don't affect you personally.
Lion is not a movie about the Trump administration or immigration policy, but it's a good reminder that tolerance and acceptance and, yes, love, are crucial to any family. And this holiday season, we could all use a little reminding.