Slumdog Millionaire – A Movie Review

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Mar 082009

Slumdog Millionaire PosterThe story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, 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 on India’s “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 on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show’s questions. Intrigued by Jamal’s story, the jaded Police Inspector begins to wonder what a young man with no apparent desire for riches is really doing on this game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out.

Genres: Art/Foreign, Comedy, Drama, Adaptation; Running Time: 2 hrs.; Release Date: November 12th, 2008 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for some violence, disturbing images and language.

Starring: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Madhur Mittal, Freida Pinto

Directed by: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan

Lay and I finally watched this movie last weekend. I’m just getting around to writing my review. I know I’ll be taken to the wood shed by some, so let me get this over with right away. I don’t think it was the best picture of the year.

That being said, it was a great movie, and I think it deserved most of the awards it won. I’m not sure about the music awards, but the cinematography was fantastic, and it was a great story cleverly told. I highly recommend seeing it.

I had a few problems with some of the film’s consistency.

At one point during the questioning by the police Jamal is asked if he’s seen his brother recently. His answer is a very indignant response to the effect that if he had, he wouldn’t be in the current situation, as he would have been in trouble for killing his brother. However, one of the kep moments in the story has him reuniting with his brother. I’m also bothered a bit by the the ease of the reunion after many hears of hate-filled separation, and the quick way Jamal’s brother just said, you go stay at my apartment. I didn’t understand the logic of this as anythingother than a plot device. I also could not find an explanation for why, near the end of the movie, Jamal’s brother punches some numbers into his phone, and very melodramatically hands it to Jamal’s life-long love, Latika.

Lay had a problem with the fact that Jamal and Latika kept finding one another in the millions that live in India. I had no problem with that. I can suspend my disbeleief on something like that as a plot device, but believe it is not so impossible in real life either.

The movie was beautifully filmed, and I was pulled in immediately, and developed an instant impathy and respect for the three main characters. The game show questiongs serving as the plot vehicle for telling the story was absolutely brilliant. I think it is better seen in a movie theater, but I’m sure I’ll watch it again once it’s out on video.

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