MOVIE REVIEW: Slumdog Millionaire, Michelle’s Take!

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire, Michelle's Take
Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire, Michelle

Director Danny Boyle has crafted one of the best and most surprising films of the year. Slumdog Millionaire is a dour film to watch but somehow manages to maintain a heart.   It’s a brilliant film that surprisingly enough, I don’t really have much to say about it. I mean, how many different ways can I say it’s great and well worth the advanced buzz that it’s getting.

I first heard about this film several years ago when Danny Boyle discussed it as his next project. Back then he told me “It’s about two brothers and a girl they both love. They grow up in the slums and are uneducated, but when one of the brothers turn 18 they go on the Hindu version of Who Wants to be a Millinoaire. The Hindu version of the show is much tougher than the American version. There’s a real professiona class in India who is highly educated, but cash poor. They are really suspicious of how this kid with no education won the show. He knows the answers because they are all based on his life experience. He doesn’t care about the money, he hopes that if he stays on the show long enough the girl will see the show. It’s a love story.”

Boyle’s description of the film is a little misleading, Millionaire is a love story between Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) and Latika (Freida Pinto). They go through a lot through their 10 year relationship, including Jamal’s jealous brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) who decides he doesn’t like Latika when they are children in the slums and for the next decade or so he goes out of his way to make Latika’s life hell and keeps her separated from Jamal.  Everytime they finally find each other, there’s Salim to muck it up.  His hatred is never really explained, Salim, you get the feeling that Salim isn’t jealous because he loves Latika, he’s jealous because Jamal is happy, or he fears losing his brother to Latika.

This is a surprisingly brutal and bleak film, watching how Latika, Jamal and Salim grow up, you have to marvel at the human will to survive in the worse conditions possible. So in that sense, it’s also a hopeful film. You really want to see Jamal achieve his dream of being with Latika. My minor quibble is that I never quite got the sense that Latika felt as strongly for Jamal. You never really see her putting herself on the line or pining for him as much as Jamal does for her. That’s a function of Simon Beaufoy screenplay and the fact the film is told entirely from Jamal’s point of view. I get that there were some subtle hints, like when she goes with Salim and forces Jamal to run. You know she’s doing it to protect him, but it doesn’t explicitly state that’s why she did it.

I loved the out of left field Bollywood dance during the credit sequence. And for all it’s harshness, the film is beautifully shot by Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. Don’t be surprised to see this film get some Award nods this season. It’s pure Oscar bait.

Final Grade A

EM Review By
Michelle Alexandria
Originally posted 12.07.08

1 Comment

  1. “Slumdog Millionaire” tells the unbelievable tale of a young man from the slums of India who becomes a contestant on the ‘millionaire’ show in India in order to re-connect with the love of his life. Just before the final show, he is taken to the police station where he is tortured and tells the story of his life. Be ready for a deafening soundtrack, brutality, and deadly violence.

    GRADE = “B”

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