Slumdog Millionaire

"Weak"

Slumdog Millionaire Review


Slumdog Millionaire, which is based on the novel Q&A by Indian diplomat/novelist Vikas Swarup, could very well be the closest thing genre-hopping director Danny Boyle ever makes to a crowd-pleaser. It won the coveted Audience Award at this year's Toronto Film Festival and comes pre-packaged with glowing reviews from both Roger Ebert and Variety's Todd McCarthy. Written by the English screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, who many may know as the scribe behind The Full Monty, Boyle has blended this romantic fable with his own, frenetic style and some nods towards a Bollywood aesthetic in order to create the Scottish filmmaker's most accessible work to date.

On the other hand, few of Boyle's images are as instantly tasteless yet characteristic as a young Indian boy jumping into a swamp of feces in order to secure an autograph from Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan. The boy running around covered in excrement, some of which is his own, is young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar). Moments after that presentation, Jamal and his older brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) become orphaned when their mother is murdered for being a Muslim. The two boys take up with another young orphan Latika (RUBINA ALI) and join up under Maman, the Fagin of this revisionist Oliver Twist. Salim saves Jamal from being blinded by Maman and the duo make off in the night, leaving Latika to fend for herself.

The Oliver similarities hit a peak when older Jamal(Tanay Hermant Chheda) and Salim (Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala) begin pickpocketing tourists at the Taj Mahal. Salim gravitates towards a popular gang leader, for whom he murders Maman, after which he banishes Jamal and takes Latika as his prize. Years later, Jamal (now played by Dev Patel) hunts down Salim (Madhur Mittal) through his job as a chai boy at a telemarketing agency. A senior trigger man for the gang he initially ran with, Salim has offered Latika (Freido Pinto) to his boss and suggests Jamal forget about her. This, of course, puts Jamal on a course to win back Latika, the love of his life.

The film gets its title from the structuring mechanism of Jamal on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, with the sleazy Prem (Indian movie icon Anil Koopar) in for Regis Philbin. The timeline plays hopscotch, bouncing from the game show to flashbacks to flash-forwards of Jamal being questioned by a police inspector (the great Irrfan Khan, criminally underused) for allegedly cheating on the show. It's a mad dash, and the energy often disguises the fact that this is a worn-thin narrative arc. Edited for momentum rather than consistency, the seductive aura of India, so beautifully captured last year in Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited and Mira Nair's The Namesake, is rendered a blur of epileptic neon and swirling, loose-limbed action in an attempt to present the slums as alien terrain.

Since when has sheer energy been reason enough for critical praise? Boyle has proven himself able at mixing his style with several genres thus far, but here, his bold color schemes and hyperactive camera finds scraps for a story, and the buzzing production drowns out Beaufoy's structurally-intriguing script. Life-affirming and brazenly romantic, this rags-to-riches tale is, for better or worse, built for comfort, and Boyle, with co-director Loveleen Tandan, keeps things moving at all times; For all its flaws, Slumdog is not, by any means, boring. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantel, who has done some excellent work with Lars Von Trier and with Boyle on 28 Days Later, at least shoots the slums of India in a buoyant rush.

Boyle's most popular works are fitted with a contrast between narrative arc and a singular musical agent. What would Trainspotting's opening motor-mouthed salvo be without Iggy Pop howling over it? Slumdog's central montage is galvanized by M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" and it dutifully averts a lag in action as Salim and Jamal panhandle on the train away from Maman. The scene is endemic of the film's chief defect: As the flash and burn of Boyle's imagery loses its sugar high, the limp proposition that it's covering up becomes more and more evident.

He's got a lust for trivia.



Slumdog Millionaire

Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 25th December 2008

Box Office USA: $141.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $377.9M

Budget: $15M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Production compaines: Celador Films, Film4

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 222 Rotten: 15

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Prem Kumar, Mia Drake Inderbitzin as Adele, as Jamal Malik, Saurabh Shukla as Sergeant Srinivas, Rajendranath Zutshi as Director (as Raj Zutshi), Jeneva Talwar as Vision Mixer, as Latika, as Police Inspector, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as Youngest Jamal, Mahesh Manjrekar as Javed, Sanchita Choudhary as Jamal's mother

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.