Rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language, 120 minutes
Poignant, powerful and superbly acted, "Slumdog Millionaire" shouldn't be missed
"Slumdog Millionaire" has a downbeat story, an unknown cast and a low budget ($15 million) that's vastly smaller than most of Hollywood movies today, all things that work against it. "Slumdog" surpasses those odds and more to become one of the best films of the year, a rich, winning story that's superbly acted, written and directed. Poigant, powerful and richly layered, it tells a fictional story of a Muslim man who defies odds to become far more successful than he'd ever dreamed.
"Slumdog" tells the story of Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, India who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees (about $2 million U.S. dollars) on India's version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much?
Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together both fun and dangerous, and of Latika (Frieda Pinto), the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of Jamal's complex story reveals how he learned the answers to the game show questions. But one question remains a mystery: why is Jamal on the show when he has no interest in the money? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out.
"Slumdog Millionaire" is a multi-faceted and complex story that unravels with each question to reveal Jamal's true motive for being on the show. A poignant, powerful tale of love, family, honor and loyalty, some may find it too depressing while many others will find much to enjoy in the film's love story. Directed with skill by Danny Boyle ("28 Days Later"), this is his best film yet as he elicits excellent, moving performances from his unknown cast, especially Patel, the heart and soul of the film (he's already been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award), and Pinto, an Indian model who had no prior acting experience prior to this film.
"Slumdog's" script by Simon Beaufoy is also richly involving and rewarding, fills the film with many memorable, haunting and moving scenes and will draw you in quickly. The final, searing scene that reunites two characters is among the best of the year. "Slumdog" also one of the most memorable scores of any recent film, from composer A.R. Rahman, who expertly mixes contemporary Indian music with traditional. Shot on location in actual slums in Mumbai, the film perfectly captures both the desperation and happiness of those communities.
"Slumdog Millionaire" is rightfully already garnering much critical and award reception, as its one of the finest films this year. "Slumdog" comes highly recommended and is a must-see for those that enjoy great moviemaking.