Slumdog Millionaire (Movie Review)

Note: Say what you will about the length, but there's nothing wrong with a short and sweet review. Around 500-600 words should be good enough for anyone.

Slumdog Millionaire

I think it's safe to say that Danny Boyle is the most unpredictable director working today. In fourteen short years, the man has covered heroin, zombies, childhood fantasy, science fiction, and now Bollywood. It really makes you wonder if there's anything the man can't do.

Slumdog Millionaire may seem like a rather cryptic title, but it's really deceptively simple. An Indian slumdog named Jamal is on one hell of a hot streak on the Indian iteration of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Unfortunately, his success is more than a little curious, and complications arise when people start asking how an uneducated sewer rat turned errand boy is able to go farther in the game than erudite doctors and lawyers. During the overnight gap after the penultimate question, Jamal is abducted and interrogated mob style, since the producers are convinced he's nothing but a lowly cheat. In order to convince the officers of his innocence and seemingly Irish style luck, Jamal recalls the childhood circumstances that gave him the answers to the questions on the show.

While the word "Bollywood" will likely deter more than a few people from seeing this film, the application of the word is simply a broad label. The Bollywood elements that most people think of when they hear the word are largely kept to a minimum. No high octane spontaneous song and dance numbers, no ridiculously enthusiastic dialogue, no garish colours stabbing your eyeballs. The film's energy is subdued yet forceful, which is what one might have come to expect from Danny Boyle. However it is worth pointing out that the end credits march to the tune of classic Bollywood song and dance, so it feels as if the producers are taking satisfaction in their trickery (clever bastards).

The cinematography is excellent. Inspired shots, great palette, and deft editing really create a tight film. There's no real jarring discrepancies between Jamal's past and his current highly publicized predicament, although it's reasonable to feel that the narrative has been slightly cheapened by recurrent time shifts. It works for the most part, but a solid handle on the present moment would have helped a great deal.

The answer is "B," but the question is, "does this spoil anything?"

As far as acting is concerned, the players are solid, but that's about it. They all give good performances, potentially even breakout performances, but no one in particular really rises above or stands out from the rest (this is to be expected since this film is the biggest production for many people involved). A lot of this also has to do with how the three leads are each portrayed by three different actors depicting different periods of their lives, so screen time is equally divvied up and uniformly focused.

The only downside of Slumdog Millionaire is how predictable the whole affair is. Walking in without expectations somewhat alleviated this problem for me, but it only takes a few minutes to realize exactly where the film will end up. How surprised you are by the ending depends in almost direct proportion on how much of a hopeless romantic you consider yourself. Though it's worth noting that if you fall into this category, you'll enjoy Slumdog Millionaire regardless. If you don't, your enjoyment will only be hindered by how much you dislike having your perception of time jostled about. A real gem, and a hearty contender for the Best Picture of 2008.

Good review, as always. And don't worry about the length - I don't get everybody's hangup on the length of reviews around here. I prefer them to be on the shorter, punchy side myself.

Anyway, I can't say that I'll go out of my way to see this, but if I happened to find it on somewhere I'd probably watch it.

Think that's the best review I've read on the Escapist so far.

Nice turn of phrase, all information tabled and opinion offered, bases nicely covered and all whilst effortlessly avoiding that whole 'tick sheet' vibe that 99% of reviews have.

Really nice job.

Excellent review. I may being seeing this film soon.


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