Monday, January 26, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I had given myself the goal of seeing as many of the Oscar-nominated films (best film and actor/actress) as possible prior to the Oscars. I had already seen 3 of the top movies (Frost/Nixon, Benjamin Button, Milk) prior to seeing Slumdog Millionaire this past weekend. Being a critically acclaimed film, my expectations were high. But something surprising happened, this movie about redemption and new beginnings exceeded them.

From the squalor, poverty and shit of modern day India (yes, shit ... apparently a recurring theme in Danny Boyle movies), came something of unexpected beauty. I was floored by this movie.

Slumdog Millionaire opens up a window into a crowded and dirty world that we as Americans cannot even begin to imagine. Set in Mumbai, India (formerly Bombay) over the last 20 years, Slumdog encompasses the life of it's main characters, Jamil, his brother Samir, and his friend Latika (played by the stunning Frieda Pinto). They are each orphaned by the Bombay riots of 1992 and 1993, in which 900 people died.

Their life on the run is told by flashbacks in a manner which I won't ruin for you here. But you can guess enough from the previews and title that is has something to do with So You Want to be a Millionaire. It's a unique premise and manner of telling the story. And despite the pain and loneliness they endure, the story has remarkable humor and spirit. The music is fantastic, comprised mostly of India dance music.

The adult actors, Dev Patel as the grown-up Jamal, the previously mentioned Pinto, and the famous Indian actor Anil Kapoor as the host of the game show, are universally good. But the child actors that portray the three characters as they are growing up are also good.

I was already a big fan of the director, Danny Boyle, who also directed Trainspotting (one of my all-time top 10) and Shallow Grave. His style of film-making, fast-paced, flashy, dirty, morally ambiguous, plays well to the material.

It's refreshing to see a popular movie with a story not set in New York or London and with characters that are not spoiled, blonde and blue-eyed. I cannot recommend a movie any more than I do this sad and effecting love story. Grade: A+


shrimplate said...

I've heard good things about the musical score as well. I'm looking forward to seeing this.

Sadie Lou said...

me too.

Laura said...

I finally saw Slumdog!! I went superbowl sunday. Fanfuckingtastic movie. One of those movies I had a hard time watching because there were moments where you were just waiting for the next awful thing to happen. But I loved the story and the way it was told, flashing back and forth.

dbackdad said...

Laura - A very unique story and one I'd be happy to see take home a few Oscars. I think it has a real shot at Best Picture and Best Director.

Watch Slumdog Millionaire said...

I also saw this film at to Toronto Film Festival. The audience gave it a well deserved standing ovation. Films like "Slumdog Millionaire" are rare. They are things of beauty, works of art that make me fall in love with movies all over again.