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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Film Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire has been the sleeper hit of the awards season and has generated a buzz that makes it the little film that could. Danny Boyle is a talented filmmaker, but I have never been a huge fan of his. His film are always a great idea with style but he always sabotages himself with bad writing and horrible endings. The Beach, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine are great movies for the first hour or so and then they go Bat-Shit crazy and the 3rd act ruins the entire feature. Slumdog Millionaire is no exception. The story follows the life of a game show contestant named Jamal. Every question has something to do with Jamal's past, and we see in flashbacks Jamal, his brother Salim, and a girl named Latika grow up orphaned in the Slums of Mumbai. I like the idea that every question on the game show opens a portal to his past, it's a great new way to tell someones life story. Boyle also made a great looking film with some beautiful shots of India and the gritty look of the Slums. The lead actor Dev Patel, who plays a adult Jamal, does a really good job and you do care about what happens to him. The first problem is how every flashback deals with a tragedy and every person in his life is a bad person. It's always his mom dies, blind homeless crippled children, his brother rapes his girlfriend and many more. I felt like I was watching a Lars Von Trier film where it's never subtleties it's always extremes. I also had a problem with the Game Show Host who turns out to be evil. He gives Jamal the wrong answer in private, and when Jamal doesn't trust him and goes against him on national TV, he pretty much tells him "Are you sure it's not B? You Should Answer B." That is straight up cheating on a national broadcast. Regis would be fired and brought up on charges if he did that to a contestant. Thats not all, after the Game Show Host tries to wain Jamal into the wrong answer he has Jamal tortured by the police, claims to the Media that Jamal cheated, and less than 24 hours later everything is smoothed over and he is back on the show. That is a major and ridicules plot hole. I know India isn't America, but it's not Stalinist Russia either. I also had a problem with the love story. They had chemistry, but I just didn't care and was waiting for her to be hit by a train. Slumdog Millionaire is similar to City Of God(2002) which is far superior in every way and didn't get the accolades that Slumdog is. I may be a little harsh on this film because it is a front runner for Best Picture of the Year. It's not a bad film, but there are about 15 films this year alot better than this one. 2.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. I agree with a lot of your review, but I think you may have missed the mark on the "all his memories are sad." I mainly take issue with that because growing up an orphan in Mumbai was probably pretty sad. I don't imagine there were a lot of birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese and keggers for those kids. One of the early questions was about a film star. The scene when he escapes the crapper to go see him to get an autograph is disgusting and hilairous all at the same time--sad, no so much as outrageous. I also think the love story was my favorite part of the film...I'm a girl go figure. They loved one another from a very early age and he showed her compassion and gave her shelter from the day he first saw her. When you've got nothing else in your life, like Jamal, that was all he lived for, all that truly mattered to him. I think the brother relationship was also interesting and important to the film. You didn't mention the music. It was very much part of the film and it was outstanding.