Saturday, December 20, 2008
Movie Reviews: SLUMDOG MILLIONARE
Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show’s questions. Intrigued by Jamal’s story, the jaded Police Inspector begins to wonder what a young man with no apparent desire for riches is really doing on this game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out.
Cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan
Director: Danny Boyle
Opened November 12, 2008
Runtime: 2 hr. 0 min
Rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language
Genres: Drama, Urban Drama, Inspirational Drama
Danny Boyle films from Trainspotting to Sunshine have displayed the director’s talent to give cinematic standards a fresh and interesting look and feel. This has made him one of my favorite directors and his films required viewing. His latest film uses plenty of tired and true cinematic techniques to grasp at our heart strings. In lesser hand this story could have fallen into the kind of trap that a lot of conventional rags to riches stories do. Boyle’s fantastic talent turns this melodrama in to high art worthy of Dickens. Slumdog Millionaire exudes energy and vivacity from its opening shots. Boyle’s direction gives the film a fantastic sense of authenticity and credibility that’s impossible to deny. The cast, made of mostly unknowns, is superb with Dev Patel taking center stage. Patel’s face carries a realistic melancholy mixed with unbridled optimism. His performance is subtle and measured but poignant at the same time. Equally effective is the cast of child actors who play Jamal and Salim at different ages throughout the film. All of them are entirely believable as the film switches back and forth in time. The older Salim, played by Madhur Mittal, is excellent in limited screen time. Freida Pinto who plays the grown Latika doesn’t fair as well in her role mainly because she lacks that credibility that makes up so much of this film. A few minor quibbles like a plot that is very familiar and some convenient plot devices don’t detract from the fact that Danny Boyle has crafted a truly exceptional film that doesn’t sounds all that intriguing on paper. His visual style and creates some truly arresting and impressive shots that make the kind of impact that few films can achieve. Boyle’s films continue to impress and Slumdog Millionaire joins what is already an impressive resume of films.