Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

In Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is one question away from winning 20 million rupees on India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? He is suspected of cheating and is being interrogated: how does he know the answers to the questions? The movie plays out mostly through flashback as Jamal recounts the events in his life where he learned the answers: as a child he remembers meeting a movie star, the answer to the first question. As his childhood is told in episodic vignettes, a love story starts to bloom.

Slumdog Millionaire may be a love story, but the film is as gritty as it is charming. The majority of the shots in the flashback scenes use some form of Dutch angles; there are very few level shots in the film. This contributes to craziness and disorder experienced by so-called slumdogs. The children are homeless and are threatened by rival religious sects and kidnappers. In the scenes that take place during the filming of the game show, however, the camera moves much more gracefully mimicking what would happen on the American TV show.

At the beginning of the film, a question is shown on screen asking the viewer how Jamal made it to the final question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The answers: a) he was lucky b) he knew the answers c) he cheated d) it is written. Fate plays an obvious role in the film as Jamal relies on fate on multiple occasions. Fate never fails to reunite him with his lover and always seems to guide him in the right direction. Jamal gradually learns to respect fate and relies on it as he answers the 20,000,000 rupee question.

The perfect balance of grit and charm is what makes this movie so special. All the tribulations Jamal must go through makes his reward that much sweeter, a sentiment that the audience is able to share. Slumdog Millionaire is unabashedly emotional and possesses candor that speaks directly to the heart in a take-it-or-leave-it-put-it-all-on-the-line manner. The result is an emotionally compelling film that leads the viewer on a journey through time, fate, and the tragically beautiful slums of India.

Grade: B+


steven said...

i wanna see this movie reaaaaal bad!
did you see it at the Ross? it open yet?

Mitch said...

It opens at the Ross on the 9th. I saw it at an AMC (gross) when I was in Kansas City.