Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire is the story of a young man named Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) and how he managed to get to the 20 million-rupee question on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The famous Danny Boyle from 28 Days Later and Sunshine fame directed the film.

The film starts with our hero in an interrogation room, he is suspected of cheating on the game, and has been accused of fraud. We see him tell the story of his life through telling the interrogators how he came to know the answers to each of the questions.

This is a very moving piece of cinematography, the story is brutally honest, and shows some true horrors. Dev Patel, may be fairly well known by English teenagers, because of his role in the popular teen drama television series, Skins, but I suspect he is little known elsewhere in the world. His performance holds up well, and shows that he has some potential beyond playing a shy, awkward teenager from an Indian up bringing. He is still shy and awkward in this film, but we see why in the film and his acting holds up under scrutiny.

The chase scenes through the slums of Mumbai are classic Boyle, reminiscent of 28 days later. There are some gorgeous shots in these scenes where the camera zooms out from above the slums to a wide shot, showing the impoverished conditions of the slums. The rest of the film has no fantastic direction, as far as camera shots go, but the shots used do not intrude on a moving film, which is exactly what was needed.

Unfortunately this film has been blighted by the tiniest little thing, which apart from during the first few frames, one line said by a young Jamal and the repetition of this line and these frames at the very end, is not mentioned at all. But this thing is made out to be the entire theme and moral of the story, it’s a discussion of fate, and I use the word ‘discussion’ loosely. And this culminates in a massively cheeseball line, which in the words of Sarah Chalke, “Sucks Caboodle”. I hate this type of cheesiness in films where it just isn’t appropriate. To further enrage me, there is some Bollywood style dancing by the cast during the credits, I literally ran from the theatre when this started. I don’t like musicals (bar Dr. Horrible), and I certainly don’t like choreographed dancing. And just exactly how appropriate is it to do that at the end of this kind of film. It reminded me of the scene in Hot Fuzz where the Amateur Dramatics Society have put on Romeo & Juliet and at the end after Romeo has killed himself they sing and dance to Lovefool by The Cardigans.

But barring this, it was a very good film, which moved me to my core and made me literally gasp and shudder.

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