Slumdog Millionaire is a cinematic typhoon of chaos, corruption, betrayal, chance, and romance. The foul world depicted in this film rivals the violence, the poverty, and the filth of another impoverished world, that of Fernando Meirelles and his magnum opus, City of God.
Danny Boyle takes some great risks by making a movie in Hinglish, sans Hollywood stars, with a story revolving around a television game show of all things. But it works. This modern folktale works exquisitely.
The cities of India depicted in Slumdog are Boyles's leading characters. Anthony Dod Mantle captures the light, the color, the dirt, and the energy of these antiheroes with an eye that doesn't flinch.
Boyle does wonders with his amateur actors and his actors don't fail him. Dev Patel gives a notable performance as Jamel, who is the Indian trinity of pathos being an orphan, a Chai-wallah, and an untouchable. The Academy needs to take proper notice. Jamel's affection for Latika leads him through his odyssey that will go into the canon of great romance films, (Casablanca; The Princess Bride; The Constant Gardner; and The Fountain), where the hero sacrifices his freedom, his life, his honor, and his dignity for his love.
Boyle takes the standard boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy flirts with fate in order to get the girl formula and keeps the formula vivid and vital by amongst all things dowsing his protagonists in dirt, crap, and unbridled class prejudice. He does so not out of some kind of masochistic fervor held against his characters but out of deep respect for these spirited souls who will try and triumph at all cost.
A warning must be given to those who are squeamish. Beware of several flinch worthy scenes: torture; violence against children; and one infamous crap scene for which I will not waste your time writing about as you probably already know about it.
Best Motion Picture of the Year, (***); Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Dev Patel; Achievement in Directing: Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan, (***); Adapted Screenplay, Simon Beaufoy, (***); Achievement in Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle, (***); Original Score: A.R. Rahman; Achievement in Editing.
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