How much money is your first kiss worth? How much for the life of your mother? Your eyesight? Would you clip a car battery to your feet for 20 million dollars? Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire asks all these questions and more.
The film, which is a sort of non-linear romantic adventure, details the life and times of Jamal, a boy born into the poorest parts of
Slumdog Millionaire is not a terribly deep film. Still, it is exceedingly good at what it does. The film transcends the goofy story concept and grows into a gripping piece of magical realism that is reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The movie was shot on location in some of the poorest parts of the world and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle makes good use of the unique location. There is so much vitality and life in the film. every shot is stuffed with detail and nuance. If the film had been made on a back lot, the sets alone could have cost 40-50 million. As it stands, the film was shot for a fraction of that.
The film is grounded by a series of virtuoso performances from child actors. Some truly horrific and outrageous things happen during the first third of the movie but the children’s performances never waver, granting the film the gravitas needed for the narrative to function.
The movie is also deliriously romantic. The final third of the movie played me like a piano. My heart palpitated in my chest as the young lovers fought for their chance at happiness.
This is the nicer, kinder Danny Boyle of Millions, not the snarling cynic of Shallow Grave. Instead of the usual indie film existentialism, there is an unabashed embrace of the classic
This is why I go to movies. It ranks amongst Boyle’s best. I can’t wait to see it again.
With Fox Searchlight backing the film, don’t be surprised if you see it up for some major awards* come February.
*Foreign film, adapted screenplay and cinematography are all possibilities in my mind.