Friday, 26 December 2008

Of Slumdog Millionaire

This Christmas Eve I got to watch a movie. A movie which won't be out in the UK till January 9th. This movie (if you haven't read the title) is Slumdog Millionaire. Slumdog Millionaire is a great movie. So far the best (and only) movie of 2009. In America critics have been throwing awards at it and it's getting serious Oscar buzz. At this point in time it stands as four critics favourite film of 2008 and has been nominated at the Golden Globes for directing, the screenplay, the original score and overall best picture. If you can't tell the critics love this movie and so do I.

I first heard about this movie in the middle of last year. I'd gotten round to seeing Danny Boyle's Sunshine (in case you're interested it's a phenomenal film). I was hooked on this guys direction, so I decided to see what else he'd done. Because of that I checked out 28 Days Later and Trainspotting, two other amazing films. However I also watched Millions which I didn't like. Then I heard that he was directing this movie Slumdog Millionaire which was then just about "a kid who wins Who Wants to be Millionaire". This turned me off instantly because of the whole "kid" and "millions" aspect of the plot made me think of Millions. So I just sort of discarded it and thought I'd wait for him to finish it and see what he does next.

Flashforward to a year later. I was incredibly interested in how the new Darren Aronofsky movie, The Wrestler, was faring. It premiered in Venice and got took home the Golden Lion for Best Movie. Then it went to the Toronto film festival, where another film was playing, Slumdog Millionaire. I got curious to see what people thought of it and to my surprise they loved it!! Now the critics liked Millions as well so I didn't much of it, but when words like "Oscar worthy direction" were thrown around my interest definitely piqued. I saw the trailer and followed the buzz and eventually it made it into the five movies I knew I needed to see. So now I've seen I'm going to try and sell it to you.

Slumdog Millionaire is set in Mumbai in India. I've never been to India but this movie sort of makes me want to go (but it also doesn't because it shows a lot of the bad side of India as well). The plot focuses on a boy names Jamal who goes on the Indian Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in an attempt to find his lost love. Along the way we flashback to his past where we find out how he knows the answers to the questions. This might sound like the most gimmicky plot ever but it's surprisingly good. Many peoples biggest complaints is that they don't like the plot and it is gimmicky or how come the answers to the questions come in chronological fashion, but when the surrounding movie is this good, all I can say is "go fuck yourself".

The movie is done in a very Bollywood style and is sort of a fairy tale. It's a fairly horrific fairy tale but if you've read the original Brothers Grimm versions you'll know what to expect. Nothing "weird" happens in the movie (apart from one brief dream segment) and throughout it's incredibly down to earth and realistic, showing us what life in the slums is like. Whilst a lot of the movie is positive and very happy, there are the occasional distressing moments. There are scenes showing the prejudices against the Muslims living in India and a scene showing the treatment of orphans at the hands of men only interested in money. Both of these scenes stick with you throughout for being that haunting (especially the part involving children).

Danny Boyle's direction is superb as it always it is. I was surprised to see him use a similar style to what he did with Sunshine. Not that that is a bad thing as I thought that Sunshine was beautifully directed, however one is set in space and the other in India, I was expecting a more Trainspotting style of direction. However the direction and cinematography is superb. It is a gorgeous movie and I'm definitely going to be seeing it in the cinema (Sunshine was very much a cinema movie). The cinematography is beautiful and has to been seen to be believed, I would say that it is by far the best directed movie that I have seen in 2008 (despite not being out till 09).

The acting is also top notch. Employing a cast of entirely India children and a few adults, the film gets some surprisingly good performances. Normally child actors piss me off no end (particularity Dakota Fanning) however the children in this film give some deep performances, which is great considering that a lot of the cast are locals who lived in Mumbai. The main cast is mostly made up of Bollywood actors with the particular standout being Anil Kapoor as the presenter of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The main trio of adult actors are also great however the biggest nod has to be given to Dev Patel who plays Jamal and if you watch Skins you might recognise him as the guy that plays Anwar. His performance is the grounding piece of the entire film and it's great fun to watch every second that he has in the movie.

Overall Slumdog Millionaire is a feel good movie. Whilst there are a few disturbing scenes, it all comes together in the end in a hugely satisfying way (although maybe if you're not into romance). Slumdog Millionaire is a triumph of a movie and one that deserves every bit of good press it has gotten 9/10

Tomorrow marks the start of My Best Shows of 2008, see you then.

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