Monday, January 05, 2009
Slumdog Millionaire review
Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) could become a big winner on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? But show host Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) figures there's no way that this 18 year old kid from the slums of Mumbai can possibly know the answers to all these questions. He must be cheating. So the film begins with Jamal's arrest. The rest of Jamal's story is told in flashbacks with vibrant visuals, quick edits and authentic Bollywood music. Jamal's story with his brother Salim and their friend Latika is a harrowing tale of having to live in poverty and scuffle for everything. It also shows how easy it is to get involved in organized crime as a way out of this poverty. The film cuts bank and forth from flashback to present day. Jamal believes that Latika (Frieda Pinto) is his soulmate but she is constantly dragged away from him by gangsters. The police determine that Jamal didn't cheat and he learns that he has become a celebrity in India. Everyone wants to know if he wins the money and you're going to want to know if he reunites with Latika.
The film business in North America is so star driven that I'm surprised the studios involved (Fox Searchlight, Warner Bros.) allowed Slumdog Millionaire to be an authentic look at life in India. But Danny Boyle is known as an uncompromising filmmaker so he deserves all the credit for the high quality of this film. The entire cast will be unknown to most. Anil Kapoor is a star in India but Frieda Pinto & Dev Patel are both making their film debuts. Patel was on an Indian TV show and Pinto is a model. The actors playing the main characters as children also do a stellar job. Boyle wisely brought in veteran Bollywood casting director Loveleen Tandan to help with the authenticity of the film and probably the language barrier too. Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) based his screenplay on the novel by Vikas Swarup. Filming on location in Mumbai & Delhi was a must and so was the score by Bollywood veteran AR Rahman. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Last King Of Scotland) and editor Chris Dickens (mostly British TV) are major contributors. The main goal of any film is to take you to a time and place and make you believe in the characters. That's exactly what Danny Boyle does with Slumdog Millionaire. Check out the trailer.