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Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire
10 10

PLOT: A penniless young man has taken India by storm as he is on his way to winning 20 million rupees on India’s popular version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. But due to mistrust of the knowledge he shouldn’t possibly have, he is taken away by the police. It is there he explains to his captors how he could have all the answers. It all makes way for a tale of destiny yet unfulfilled in the guise of a young woman that he loves.

REVIEW: I’ve never been one to watch the television show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. It never appealed to me in any way. So when I went into SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE knowing that it was about an eighteen-year-old orphan from Mumbai, who is only one question away from winning 20 million rupees on India’s version of the show, I had my doubts. But I should have known that Danny Boyle would turn it into a magnificent accomplishment. A vivid portrait of love, pain, brutality and destiny that is beyond anything playing at the local Cineplex. Not only is it one of Boyle’s most incredible works of art, it may very well be the best film of the year.

It is a life changing moment for Jamel Malik (Dev Patel). He is on a stage about to answer a question that will make him rich beyond belief. But before he can make his million, he is taken in for cheating on the game. The Police Inspector (Irrfan Khan) attempts to find the truth, and how this young man has successfully cheated on the very popular game show. Finally, after suffering vicious abuse from the police department, Jamel tells his story. And oh what a story it is! How he knows each question is told in some of the most powerful and oftentimes heart wrenching tales. But beneath it all is a love story. A sweet and undying tale of never giving up on your destiny.

It is unnerving what Boyle accomplishes here. It sounds cliché, but this is truly one of those films where you may find yourself laughing out loud then crying the next. Both of the young actors who play brothers Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) and Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) are simply wonderful. When they lose their mother due to a violent attack, it is one of the most painful moments you could imagine. The imagery is filled with color and alive with sound. While there is one sequence early on that felt similar to TRAINSPOTTING, as the two young brothers are running from authorities, it is still nothing like he’s done before. In fact, so much of the film is overflowing with vitality and beauty. It is brimming with humor, horror and romance as destiny is possibly fulfilled.

The only downfall here is the name. Will audiences go see a movie entitled SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE? Yet it is incredibly apropos as it is about just that. A young man from the slums who is on his way to becoming a millionaire. But it is so much more complex than what you would expect. It is rich in style, and rich in character. While you may find that it is treading into melodrama for a bit, it is a very slight complaint. In fact, to tell this story, it would have to take on some melodramatic risks. Yet this young man’s journey is so engrossing, even when it feels a bit like a Shakespearean romance, that I can‘t imagine it told any other way. But boy does it help when the object of Jamal’s affection is the absolutely stunning Freida Pinto. Her performance as Latika is every bit as good as it should be. Every single character here helps brings this story to life.

Once again, Boyle has created a movie that is flowing with style. He shoots this story with such a profound skill and of course, adds some wonderfully chosen pieces of music. All the songs are poured into the film and truly become part of its beauty. I still remember the brilliantly chosen soundtrack from TRAINSPOTTING and this is just as inventive and exciting. While I wonder if the film will find the audience it deserves, I think something this beautifully orchestrated will find itself tossed around when the Oscar nominations are announced. And if that happens, it will be richly deserved. My rating 10/10 -- JimmyO





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