Slumdog Millionaire Review: Rich & Colorful

Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Twenty Eight Days Later) endeavors to tell the tale of a lifelong quest for love in Slumdog Millionaire. The love story is capitulated by the intensity of the movie’s movement but is uniquely supported by it rather than being diminished by it due to Simon Beaufoy’s wonderfully rendered screenplay.

Slumdog Millionaire follows Jamal (Dev Patel: Older Jamal) who is in the hot seat in India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and is one question away from winning it all. Jamal is then quickly whisked away to a police station where he is brutally interrogated under the suspicion he could not possibly know all the answers to the questions given his impoverished and uneducated background. He then proceeds to explain why he knows the answer as he reaches into his past and tells the story of how he and his brother Salim (Maddur Matill: Older Salim) escape one tragic and harrowing situation after another as they make their way into their present circumstances. Also, through these autobiographical accounts, Jamal reveals how he lost contact with his childhood friend, Latika (Freida Pinto: Older Latika), who he desperately seeks to save throughout his life and what his true intentions are for being on the show.

Slumdog Millionaire portrays a deeply rich mosaic style of storytelling broken up into many pieces that are holistically combined with strong vivid appeal and forward momentum. This is both achieved through more contemporary narrative that jumps back and forth through time but also as a reflective discourse on India’s culture portrayed through colorful snippets of its indigenous mediums in lifestyle and cinematographic flair and the exploration of its deep cities ranging from the slums of the lower city all the way to the upper class portions of the country’s demographic as appropriately relayed by the movie’s title.

Authenticity is further supported by the fact that the majority of the cast is directly from India and some of the children who were cast to portray the main characters’ childhood counterparts, were literally from the slums of the city and spoke Hindi throughout the film that was translated with colorful subtitles. (Note- I found out from the director that because of the movie these unknown child actors were given educational opportunities that otherwise would may have never been presented to them.)

Danny Boyle, one of the more diverse directors, succeeds in his newest piece and it fought waning economic conditions that almost denied it a theatrical debut to make it to audiences. There is a gritty realism with implied violence that effectively tells of unrelenting harsh conditions perforated by an underlying layer of blind but deserved optimism. The end product is something that sees the beauty in something that is hopelessly decrepit. All of the main acting talent under Boyle’s direction really brought out a cheerfulness that balanced the film and allowed it to flourish.

The one downside, without getting into too much depth, is that portions of the movie rely on materialistic notions, which may to some extent have broad appeal but actually hinders the heart of the story due to its superfluous nature. Hearing directly from Boyle, this was in fact a decision made by studios on what they thought the market reflected but may make some people feel as being unnecessary. Despite this, it hardly derails the movie as decisions like this occur all the time to maximize support so it rests as only a minor criticism.

Sandwiched between blockbuster movies such as Quantum of Solace and Twilight, one should really take the time to see this gem of a movie as well as it will definitely share a world of wealth on what really matters in the world. Though it has received an R rating, young but mature audiences, under parental supervision, may also have the chance to understand how dire circumstances are in portions of the world, or even in our own country for that matter.

Also, Slumdog Millionaire teaches a lesson on Destiny from a more intrinsic understanding as influenced by eastern schools of thought. In that, there lies the understanding that life is in our control and that our dominant thoughts will bring to fruition what we truly expect out of life.

– Chris Walsh

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