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Movie review by: Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
"Slumdog Millionaire" by Mike Smith
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One of the perks of being a film critic is that you often see films early. Between November 1 and the end of 2008, I had the opportunity to see no less than 35 films. Some of them I saw well before their scheduled release date. One of these films was “Slumdog Millionaire.” By the time the film opened there were others to review. In fact, I believe the review that week was for “Gran Torino.” This past weekend “Slumdog Millionaire” walked off with eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Because of this, and the fact that I hadn’t published a review of the film yet, I thought I would include it this week. Since I had first seen the film in early November, I gave it a second look to refresh my memory (and my notes).
Jamal (Patel) is literally in the hot seat. He finds himself in police custody, suspected of fraud. Moments ago he was one question away from winning 20 million rupees on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” Now he has questions to answer. Both from the police and for himself.
The ultimate example of the little movie that could, “Slumdog Millionaire” was days away from being released directly to DVD when its distribution company folded. Thankfully Fox Searchlight took a chance and the payoff was a boat full of Oscars. Working from a script by “Full Monty” creator Simon Beaufoy, director Danny Boyle and his crew took his cameras to India and the audience is set directly into the countryside, from the slums of Mumbai to the opulent Taj Mahal in Bombay. The story is told in a series of flashbacks as the police interrogators review the tape of the game show. They are curious as to how an uneducated young boy who works as a gofer in a cell phone company sales center, knows the answers to what appear to be very hard questions. Only in recounting his adventures does Jamal begin to explain his luck. As small children, Jamal and his brother, Salim, were unseparable. When their mother is killed in a violent village uprising (the families attacked are Muslim) the boys are forced to live on the streets, where they are soon befriended by, as best to describe him, the Indian counterpart to Oliver Twists’ Fagin. The boys are accompanied by Latika, a young girl that Jamal is smitten with. As the three grow up, their adventures continue and they are constantly separated, reunited and separated again. In fact, Jamal only attempts to get on “Millionaire” because he knows Latika watches the program.
The film is beautifully crafted. Even when surrounded by trash and squalor, the slums burst forth with colors. Each home has it’s own shade of blue, red, orange or green, each one shining out from under a tin roof. The clothing worn by the town people is just as colorful, as if the brightness is a placebo to help them get through their dreary days. The cast is outstanding. While the older Jamal, Salim (Madhur Mittal) and Latika (Pinto) are played by trained actors, the younger versions of the trio are played by kids and teens that director Boyle found in the streets of Mumbai. These youngsters are the heart and soul of the film, their dirty faces illuminated by their wide smiles and bright eyes. Also deserving recognition is Kapoor, who plays the host of the game show. The film is rated “R” for its intenseness. This is a movie everyone can enjoy so don’t let the rating steer you into leaving someone home. On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Slumdog Millionaire”
This week's movie review of "Slumdog Millionaire" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith. All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.