Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire is a perfect example of what a great director can do with a pretty average script. This film is a beautiful, colorful celebration of life that will you leave you feeling incredibly nothing but good.  Director Danny Boyle has proved to be one of the most diverse directors out there, having successful and critically acclaimed films ranging from Shallow Grave, Sunshine, Millions, 28 Days Later, and Trainspotting.

The slumdog of this story is Jamal.  Jamal has landed a spot on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?  As he’s asked each question, there’s a flashback to an earlier part of his life, to an experience that taught him the answer to the question.  One of the best parts of this film is letting it unfold before you, so I won’t ruin it too much.  I will say you’ll be hypnotized by the characters, the brilliant camera work, the spot-on soundtrack (much of it coming from efforts by M.I.A. with A.R. Rahman), and the beautiful directing.

Let’s be honest.  The flashback thing has been done.  The movie is overly predictable, giving in to convention after convention, and we’ll ignore the extremely close parallels to City of God, but for some reason, I just don’t care about these things.  I was a little worried that Boyle wouldn’t be able to finish up the film well.  In his most recent efforts, the tight, well constructed stories fall apart during the last third of the movie, but like Millions and Trainspotting, he kept it together until the credits started rolling over the brilliant Bollywood dance scene.  Jamal is played by multiple actors during his flashbacks, as is his brother Salim, and life-long love Latika.  All the actors are brilliant (check out the outrageously beautiful Freido Pinto).

The screenplay was written by Simon Beaufoy, and is based on the book Q&A by Vikas Swarup (rumored to be based on a true story?).  While the script isn’t groundbreaking, Slumdog Millionaire is exactly the type of movie everyone can jump behind: just edgy enough to convince you you’ve experienced something real, visually hypnotic and inspiring, and more than just a little uplifting.  You’d be hard pressed to find someone not moved by this visceral and engaging piece by one of the most interesting directors around.

★★★½

Rottentomatoes: 91%Cream of the Crop: 94%

Comments
6 Responses to “Slumdog Millionaire”
  1. Anders says:

    I can’t wait to see this.
    I wish it would come to Australia already!

  2. Fletch says:

    Spectacular concise summary and review. Though we’ve seen flashbacks to death, the author’s spin for these was brilliantly simple. Those that are calling this the film of the year are getting ahead of themselves (see: your comments on the script, etc.), but I love it for all the reasons you mention. It’s a great experience.

  3. Yogidad says:

    Wow – What did Danny Boyle pay you for that BJ? The director did the writer no favors, although he did rip off enough Bollywood to get some of it right. Everything has done before – including very shallow reviews that pretend to be insightful by belittleing the author.
    In this case the author did what had been done before but with a twist and a flair. You should see if you can ever do half as much.

  4. Tim says:

    Blake, while you’ve been at Sundance, I’ve been trying to catch up–in a few cases, circling back–on the Oscar nominees. A second helping of SDM, now that the initial clamor has stilled and the movie’s bagging a truckload of trophies per weekend, left me surprisingly cold. Visceral and engaging, yes. Moving–not so much. The hyperbolic visuals and slice-and-dice editing suggest emotional complexity that I couldn’t find the second time around. Boyle can’t stop from frittering long enough for the picture to pause long enough and capture any depth of feeling. (The mother’s murder is a prime example of this; he doesn’t give the boys a chance to register their loss.)

    Things fly so fast you don’t register what you’ve lost either. You just take it on face value that terrible, emotionally crippling things are happening right and left without genuine empathy for the characters. What made me realize this was the scene in the Sprint boiler room, when Jamal reaches his brother after years of separation. The anguish there dwarfs all the horror and squalor and violence that Boyle works so hard to throttle us with. There’s a world of difference between sensation and sensibility. SDM is sensational in the best AND worst sense of the word.

  5. Jen says:

    Just saw this movie last night and can’t stop thinking about it. I think that is probably a sign of a good movie. I thought it was excellent, but not necessarily an enjoyable experience. I’m not big into a lot of violence and torture and there was just so much of it in this movie. Obviously that is what the story is based around so there is no getting around it, but it was just really hard to watch at times. I do agree with you about it being beautifully shot and the all the actors that played the main characters did a fantastic job. I doubt that it would ever be a movie that I’d choose to watch again, but I’m so glad that I got to see it once.

  6. alterity says:

    Not a great film, but pretty good nonetheless. The book was even better.
    .-= alterity´s last blog ..Slumdog Millionaire (Jakarta setting) =-.

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