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.