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Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

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Score: 8/10

Genre: Drama Running Time: 2 hrs.

Release Date: December 25th, 2008 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Danny Boyle Actors: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan, Saurabh Shukla, Raj Zutshi, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar

“S

lumdog Millionaire” offers an enticingly original presentation of familiar tales through the utilization of a flashback system of storytelling, which fuses exhilarating adventure with suspenseful drama. Many of the scenarios created are nothing new, but the fantastical delivery and extraordinary setting provide a refreshing take on traditional themes. Even with its minor faults, the movie is, on the whole, an astoundingly uplifting, monumentally feel-good picture.

The film begins by retracing young Jamal Malik’s (Dev Patel) life up to his current predicament. Presently, he is a contestant on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and, much to the chagrin of the show’s producers and arrogant host Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor), Jamal manages to reach the million-dollar question. But before he can answer, time runs out, and he is brought backstage to be violently interrogated by Mumbai’s thuggish police. As Jamal explains how he knew the answer to each of the questions presented, the audience learns of the amazing tales of the youth’s turbulent childhood – and his undying search for a long lost love.

“Slumdog Millionaire’s” finest accomplishment lies within a stirring flashback narrative that perfectly complements the line of questioning presented during the game show. As Jamal recounts the misadventures of his often dangerous childhood growing up in the slums and squalor of Mumbai, viewers are slowly shown the extreme trials and triumphs he’s faced, and his ultimate reason for competing on the show (beyond the ostensible – or unquestionable – need for money). This steady build of characters and settings creates a mesmerizing vehicle of amusing coincidence, cinematic destiny, and heart-rending melodrama.

For a cast consisting primarily of child actors and debut performances, the acting is surprisingly strong. The three main characters are shown at several different stages in their lives, with each subsequent incarnation perfectly supplementing the previous representative. The children truly steal the show as they realistically portray the hardships of growing up in such despondent situations, with innocence lost yet spirits unbroken. And at its core is a surefire love story that, while seen before, proves victorious with its rarely-filmed environment, smartly developed characters, and fantasy-oriented depiction of unyielding compassion. It is, in short, a very human story. With director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting,” “Millions,” “Sunshine”) at the helm, the result is an epic, romantic yarn that knows when to tug at the heartstrings, when to display a universally inviting combination of Bollywood and Hollywood (most evident in a resounding dance sequence at the close), and when to keep the viewer enraptured by the simple beauty of a love that knows no boundaries.

– The Massie Twins

 



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