Slumdog Millionaire

Danny Boyle

BY Brendan WillisPublished Nov 6, 2008

Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) explores a world rarely seen by western audiences in Slumdog Millionaire, taking viewers on a Dickensian tour of the slums of Mumbai, India. Boyle has honed his directorial style to a razor’s edge, creating a sometimes uncomfortable intimacy between audience and subject.

The story is told through the eyes of Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), who is the unlikely winner of the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Jamal is subsequently accused of cheating, as the uneducated street urchin cum call centre employee could not possibly know the answers to all the obscure Millionaire trivia. Jamal defends his win by recalling, question by question, how the circumstances of his life growing up on the streets of Mumbai/Bombay with his older brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) and fellow orphan Latika (Frieda Pinto) provided all the answers.

Slumdog Millionaire is a film of stark contrast, at times brutal and beautiful, sad and joyful. Boyle creates a work of startling emotional complexity that will leave viewers exhilarated and exhausted by the time the end credits roll. Visually the movie is a riot of colour and texture, turning the shantytowns of Bombay into a densely layered feast for the eyes.

While the entire cast is incredible, the actors who play Jamal and Salim as young children give a superb performance, carrying the first third of the film on their shoulders in a way that few adult actors could hope to. As young adults, Jamal and Salim are flip-sides of the same coin, with Patel’s forthright and upstanding Jamal evoking the audience’s sympathy, while Mittal channels a disturbed intensity to bring the rage and violence of their harsh life on the streets across. Though Patel is given top billing, Mittal’s supporting role shouldn’t be overlooked, as his anger is necessary to fully engage the audiences.

Slumdog Millionaire is Boyle’s best movie to date and could easily be called a masterpiece, not only of filmmaking but also of storytelling and cinematography. An absolute must-see film that will engage audiences of all types.

And unlike many great films that are so emotionally overwhelming and oppressive that they do not court repeat viewings, Slumdog Millionaire is sure to warrant several replays in years to come.
(Searchlight Pictures)

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