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Slumdog Millionaire Movie poster

A 2008 movie directed by Danny Boyle

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Refreshing Crowd-Pleaser...Great but Not Amazingly Great!!

  • May 18, 2009
Rating:
+4

"…If you look hard enough, Life can give you all the answers."

This is one phrase I've always been told and director Danny Boyle's adaptation of the novel by Vikas Swarup tells a very whimsical tale. The film has won several Academy film awards, most probably because of its portrayal of humanity. The film is a rousing crowd-pleaser, it is an excellent tale of life, love and delightful destiny.

Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is a young man on the verge of winning a significant large fortune in India's version of the game show, "Who wants to be a Millionaire?". Jamal is an uneducated young man from the slums and one would be very hard-pressed to believe that this young can go this far, exceeding the capabilities of scholars and wise men. Accused of cheating, Jamal is questioned by the local authorities, and his mind drifts back to his past, a past tainted by the bleakness of his childhood, his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) and his childhood love, Latika (Freida Pinto). Will he lose everything or attain all his dreams?

            Dev Patel in "Slumdog Millionaire."

                               Ayush Mahesh Khedekar and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail in "Slumdog Millionaire."

Danny Boyle's film is edited in a fragmented style, as the past is told in flashbacks. There is a strong appeal along the film's screenplay, as it delves into a reactionary pace in its poetic rhythm. Jamal's character is perfectly fleshed out, as the film meticulously reveals his childhood, seen through his memories, and the very unbalanced relationship with his brother Salim. They lived in the slums of India, doing what they could to survive whatever life throws at them; from abusive crime syndicates who use children, to selling goods on the train, pretending to be guides, stealing shoes for profit, that leads to Jamal being a mere aide in a telecommunications company. Jamal and Salim were separated when they were children, Salim took the dark path, as he becomes the henchman of a crime boss. Latika is the one girl that proves to be the catalyst for Jamal's inspirations, and carries all the wealth of the film's thematic message of destiny.

The underlying secret of Jamal's childhood is told to two cops, and it is very bleak indeed. There are hinted at child abuse, and there are mild doses of violence. I rather thought that Boyle did well in his expositions of the comings and goings in India, the cultural differences are brought into center stage as the audience becomes privy to life in the slums. The film gives us glimpses into India's red light district, and the workings behind child begging. These are things that came as no surprise to me, as I am well aware that children have been used as beggars by the underworld for many years. The soundtrack utilizes a neo-India/modern style that adds some great atmosphere as it complimented its mood.

Jamal is one optimistic individual, and maintains a heart of gold. The film does manage to balance its somewhat bleak tone with the developing love between Jamal and Latika. It is something to look forward to in the eyes of Jamal and the viewer, and therefore proves very predictable. While there are indeed weaknesses in the script, the film does manage to enthrall the audience due to its excellent editing tricks that nails down the atmosphere and emotions. I may say even go as far as the film barely offers anything new, the far superior Brazilian masterpiece, "City of God" did everything "Slumdog Millionaire" did better, but Boyle's film manages to make his audience feel uplifted as Meirelles' felt very dark and depressing. This is one common denominator critically acclaimed movies mostly share (but not all), they have a good message. During this very depressing times, it is refreshing to see an uplifting motion picture. 

            Dev Patel as Jamal and Freida Pinto as Latika in "Slumdog Millionaire."

                               Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as youngest Jamal and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail as youngest Salim in "Slumdog Millionaire."

The film is well acted, but I thought the children who played Jamal, Salim and Latika stole the show. These children do manage to turn up the emotion in the film's sequences to generate sympathy, and does serve up bits of humor, (however, hopeless their plight may seem to be). The film becomes darker and bleaker as Jamal's memories slowly unfold, that you know that it may get worst before it gets better. Their evolution in a harsh setting is the film's main draw, and realistically, the film requires some suspension of disbelief as to how everything seemed to fall into place. Which brings us to some of the film's weaknesses. There are times that I felt that the film felt a little rushed, that some elements weren't brought into fruition. There are some plot holes and some did hamper the film, not too much but they did. I also thought that the film's climax came rather quickly, with a perfunctory factor that was too telegraphed with its almost overdone sentimentality.

"Slumdog Millionaire" is a story of hope, love and destiny amid the most dire situations. It is an effective tale of rising above to achieve your dreams, and in this case, it is a lovely story of love. Its theme captured 8 Academy awards including best picture, I guess the American audience do love tales such as this. Don‘t get me wrong, this is a great film, strong in its message that no situation is so bleak that one cannot rise from, but reality turns its ugly head, as we all know that this fictional tale is so far-fetched. I guess we all need to be uplifted at times, but I still prefer actual gritty realism, it best signifies ambitious filmmaking.

Highly Recommended! [4 Stars]
 

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April 06, 2011
Great review WP but it seems I liked it even more than you, 5 out of 5 for me.
 
May 20, 2009
I really enjoyed this film, but for me it just didn't live up to the hype and it certainly wasn't the best film of the year, regardless of what the Academy thought. Like Trashie, I hope that Danny Boyle goes back to his routes and stays clear of the mainstream.
May 21, 2009
agreed. this was good but waayy overrated. I do like Boyle, have you seen "Sunshine"? I was thinking of reviewing it here, if I manage to rewatch it.
May 21, 2009
Nope, and please do review it. :)
 
May 19, 2009
Far sadder than the movie could ever hope to be is the reality. The little girl and her family were thrown out of their "house" this last week and they had nowhere to go. Of course the house didn't amount to much since they did live in the slums where the movie was filmed. The place was bulldozed to make room for something else.
May 19, 2009
That sucks. I heard about that in the news. Reality always turns its ugly head, I hope some folks helped her family out...
May 19, 2009
I wish there was a fund run by someone reliable. It seems a shame that the film made so much money and the kids didn't get much out of it. You know I made some comments under other people's remakrs. Maybe that's why you can't find them. Have you tried that?
June 21, 2009
The good news here is that Boyle coughed up some money and bought the girl and her family a house. I think the production company should have done it rather than the director since they were the ones who made all the money on the film. It makes me wonder what they've done for the other kids who worked on the film.
 
May 18, 2009
I really did like this film. It was a nice break from my usual horror niche. It's been a long time since a film has touched me quite this deeply. I shed a few tears before the credits ran across the screen. Very Good review!
May 19, 2009
great to hear that this movie affected you emotionally, bro. This was good, but I think I may have become a bit jaded to films like this. After all, I see a lot of asian films, and they are already very emotionally driven--especially Korean films. Thanks for the read, bro!
May 19, 2009
There are films out there that made me cry a bit more I suppose than Slumdog but it's rare that you see them in the multiplex. In fact, I hardly ever have the desire to go see films anymore in the theatres because there is so little of interest to choose from. This was rather refreshing indeed for me. You should make me a list of the emotionally driven Korean films. Are most of them readily available on DVD? Thanks bro.
May 19, 2009
I'd recommend John Sayles MEN WITH GUNS. It was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film but lost of course since it WAS the best film in the batch. Its on moritorium but NetFlix carries it.
 
May 18, 2009
Nice, thorough review again Woo! I'm sure you've read my complete adoration of Slumdog so my main question is what plot points did you want to see fleshed out more?  I like how you brought in "City of God," a film that spotlights the harsher realities with less moments of far-fetched fantasy.  Still, Slumdog hits all the crowd-pleasing notes in an original tale with a smashing ending (despite the unnecessary Bollywood number)
May 18, 2009
Thanks, fooddude (love that screenname). Don't get me wrong, I liked this film, but I felt that it limited itself to maintain its momentum as a crowd pleaser. The plot holes came from the fact that most of the flashbacks came from Jamal's memory--it left certain things undeveloped as to why the crime boss was in hiding, Salim's sudden change of heart, as to how he actually became a contestant in the show. Maybe Salim should've had more screentime, and their childhood should've been more fleshed out but I guess Boyle didn't really want to leave a bitter taste in everyone's mouth. This film could've been more graphic and darker. Boyle's direction was solid, he knew what he wanted to do; but I felt like he intentionally held back, maybe to avoid angering some of his audience. I would've given this a 4.5-5, if the climax weren't too perfuctory and if it didn't have a misplaced dance number, and if it had the ambition to show more details. I really liked your review, but this just came up a tad short. "City of God" is one helluva movie! It was so frighteningly real and bleak. Still, I have to agree, this hit all the right spots in being a rousing crowd-pleaser.
May 19, 2009
As I think back the only thing that struck me as being Bollywood was everyone dancing as they rolled the credits. I can't recall any "dance number" in the film. You can't be referring to the celebration after his win as a "dance number", or are you? If you are then you need to see some Bollywood for you have no concept of what a dance number is, Woop.
May 19, 2009
he-heh. I have seen only two Bollywood movies so far...one was a drama and the other one was horror. Woopak don't like dance numbers LOL! Yeh, I was referring to the end credits dancing...it lost me. LOL
May 24, 2009
yeah! the dance number, though cool BY ITSELF did not fit in with the rest of the film. I wanted them to hold on that moment when Jamal finally kisses Latika because there was such an intense buildup to it! Then this brash "Jai Ho" comes on that ruins the romantic tension and release.
 
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More Slumdog Millionaire reviews
review by . April 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There is an underlying sweetness to Slumdog Millionaire which is belied by its overt brutality. This movie is a nasty, gritty and very realistic depiction of the slums, but in the end it proves to be an uplifting, heartwarming, and inspirational fairy tale and love story in the vein of Walt Disney. The very hard life which Jamal, the main character and hero of Slumdog Millionaire, reveals before our eyes makes us root for him harder than most other protagonists over the last decade. Jamal is a very …
Quick Tip by . October 01, 2010
I read the advertisements and couldn't imagine why I'd like it, but it really does pull you in.
Quick Tip by . September 25, 2010
Excellent storytelling from a great director, fantastic cast and superb narrative
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie was phenomenal on every possible level. Breathtaking cinematography, heart wrenching human interest, engaging characters, unpredictable plot, sincere romance, original dialogue, and super super tense moments. I wish I could see a movie this good every time we go to the theater!!! If only ; )
review by . November 16, 2009
   I enjoyed this film but I did not feel it was as great as all the hype it has received.  The director uses flashbacks in a confusing manner starting with an adult Jamal being tortured in a Mumbai police station.  We are then treated to all kinds of flashbacks with an adult Jamal playing the India version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and a very poor kid Jamal being abused by his bully brother Salim.  Salim locks Jamal in an outhouse when the local celebrity comes to …
review by . March 03, 2010
Slumdog Misogynist
This story is so well crafted that the viewer suspends their reason and disbelief, and by the end of the movie we all overlook the simple but persistant message of the film... women are stupid.        Having an almost entirely male cast (one of the two female characters is quickly bludgeoned to death in the beginning of the film,) the focus intensifies on the singular female character.  The writers and directors would have us believe that as a "helpless" little …
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
awesome movie..i love watching this movie over and over again
Quick Tip by . June 07, 2010
UNBELIEVABLE. What an incredible movie. Really moving, eye-opening, and overall entertaining. Can't wait to read the book as well.
review by . February 25, 2009
I know it's been said a million times already and I hate to sound cliché, but it's a statement that rings true every time you say it. Who would have thought Danny Boyle, a man from Manchester could have created such an award winning phenomenon. Slumdog Millionaire is a film I tried to keep away from as long as possible as I didn't want to seem like a person who jumps on the bandwagon. I guess it was inevitable that I was to see it eventually and tonight was the night. It has remained in my memory …
Quick Tip by . February 08, 2010
It looks a little too cliche and uplifting at first glance, but it pulls through so earnestly it still ends up likable.
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Wiki

Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film directed by Danny Boyle, with co-director Loveleen Tandan, and written by Simon Beaufoy. It is an adaptation of the Boeke Prize winning and Commonwealth Writers' Prize nominated novel Q and A by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup.

Synopsis
An eighteen-year-old from the slums of Mumbai finds himself competing on the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," where the questions he must answer offer a look back at his earlier life. The show's host, however, insists that he must be cheating and takes steps to force young Jamal to admit that a boy from such an impoverished background could not possibly possess the knowledge necessary to win the show's top prize.

2008 Oscar Nominations
  1. Achievement in Cinematography
  2. Achievement in Directing
  3. Achievement in Film Editing
  4. Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
  5. Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song, "Jai Ho")
  6. Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song, " O Saya")
  7. Best Motion Picture of the Year
  8. Achievement in Sound Editing
  9. Achievement in Sound Mixing
  10. Adapted Screenplay
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Tags

Movies, Foreign Films, Foreign Movies, Reel Overseas, Bollywood, Indian Films, 2008 Best Picture Oscar Nominee, Oscar Winner, 2008 Oscar Winner, 2008 Best Picture Oscar Winner, Best Picture Oscar Winner, 2008 Oscar Nominee

Details

Release Date: November 2008 (US)
Runtime: 120 Min

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