Slumdog Millionaire – Review

Worth seeing: if you want a frenetic genre-busting comedy/romance/thriller that bridges cultures
Director:Danny Boyle
Featuring:Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan
Length:120 minutes
Certificate:15
Country:UK
Released:9th January 2009

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Jamal (Dev Patel) is close to winning twenty million rupees on India’s version of “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?”
But the producers are suspicious. How does someone who grew up on Mumbai’s tips and had no education find himself just one question away from the top prize?
At the start of the film, it offers a multiple choice. He cheated? He’s lucky? He’s a genius? It’s his destiny.
As the film begins, Jamal is whisked off the set and escorted to a police station, where he’s questioned – and tortured – by the sergeant, determined to find out how he’s cheating.
Slumdog Millionaire is told in flashback, from the interrogation room, as Jamal recounts a series of incidents from his past, each of which explains how he knew the answer to one of the questions.
Buried in these stories are tales of love – found and lost – fraternal betrayal and sheer determination to better yourself.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

One of Britain’s most innovative and unpredictable directors doesn’t disappoint with his latest – unexpected – film.
Who’d have thought – in the days of Shallow Grave, Trainspotting or 28 Days Later – that the same film-maker would come up with a fairytale story of a slumdog who rises from Mumbai’s tips to become a national sensation on the country’s most popular TV quiz show, finding love – and himself – on the way?
The film is bursting with frenetic energy, as each flashback occupies a different genre – some comic, some tragic, some romantic, Dickensian slums, de Palman gangsters, everything – all cut together with the rabble-rousing excitement of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” right down to the pauses before the answers and the nail-bitingly frustrating commercial breaks.
The film is being promoted as the “feel-good film of the year,” which might seem odd for a film with so much brutality and violence – so many evil people doing bad things to good people – but oddly, after a gut-wrenchingly emotional roller coaster, it does indeed leave you feeling uplifted and positive – a testament both to Boyle’s handling of a complicated story and the sensitive performances he draws from his leading cast – both as youngsters and adults.
The main problem – and sadly, it’s a big one, since the success of the film rests on it – is that the plot device doesn’t work as well as Boyle and his team believe it does – in fact, it feels rather contrived.
Many of the backstories don’t really explain how he knows the answers, and it seems a little too convenient that the events in his past happened to have happened in the correct order to answer the questions he’s presented with on the show.
But ultimately, the thrill of watching this film excuses its failings.
It’ll be one of those few (partly) subtitled films with a (largely) unknown cast that you’ll be recommending to your friends.