19 January 2009

Movie: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Slumdog Millionaire is, perhaps, one of the most engaging, and oddly uplifting tales of a horrible life I’ve seen. It is bold, exciting, directed with great flair by Danny Boyle (Trainspottting, The Beach, 28 Days Later).

Written by Simon Beaufoy and based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup it’s a tale about eighteen year old Jamal Malik, who is having an amazing answering streak on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He's only one correct question away from the big prize. However, some, including those associated with the game show, question how someone like Jamal, a self confessed non-genius who grew up in the slums of Mumbai, can be doing so well on the show when others who are brighter, more educated and wealthier than him have failed. Is Jamal cheating? Is it purely luck that they have asked him the questions to which he knows the answers?

As the film unwinds between now and the past, we see how Jamal can answer all the questions he’s been asked We see his struggle as an orphan with his brother -a guardian/protector and eventually, his antagonist and as he works his way towards what appears to his one, true destiny -winning on the show to be reunited with the one girl he has loved all his life.

Boyle -an English director, so an ultimate outsider - has some how has becomes connected to the world of India, a country increasingly coming into the spot light of the world. With a multi-layered script that never panders to the sordid lives these children live (as a matter of fact, the children seem almost unaware), he’s able to bring heart and joy to the story of Jamal (played by Skins actor Dev Patel in a star making performance).

Certainly, one the best 10 films of 2008.

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