Dev Patel has been all over the place since his first movie, the surprise smash hit Slumdog Millionaire. (Eight Oscars, including Best Picture!) He has been very good in several movies, including the crowd-pleasing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel.
Usually when a film is “based on a true story” it is really better described as “based on real events.” That gives a lot of latitude to alter things, spice it up, make it more dramatic. In this case most of it is demonstrably real, though I’m sure at least some of it was dramatized. It tells the amazing story of Saroo Brierly, who at age five fell asleep on a train and eventually found himself in Calcutta, almost a thousand miles away from his home. He didn’t speak the language, could not tell anyone where he was from. It could have ended very badly, and almost did, but after a time of living on the streets he was eventually adopted by an Australian family. Twenty-five years later he became obsessed about finding his birth family. And against all odds (no need for a spoiler warning; you didn’t think they would be telling this story if he wasn’t successful), he did.
It’s an inspiring story, well told, though the second half which concerns his detective work using Google maps and other Internet resources tends to drag a little. But I have to agree it was all pretty ingenious. This movie got a lot of Oscar nominations but didn’t win any.