| The Red Right Hand
Danny Boyle is quickly becoming my favourite living director. From Shallow Grave to Sunshine I have done little but sing his praises (yes, that includes The Beach too). If his film's were not testimony enough to his talent, his DVD releases also reflect a truly gifted artistic mind, both within the DVD commentaries and a particular special feature on the Sunshine release which promotes two short independent pieces by other directors; clearly illustrating Boyle's love for the craft. But enough boot kissing.
Slumdog Millionaire was a film that I had been hearing a fair bit about ever since its debut at Telluride. To be honest, I didn't expect much but what I saw took me back to one of my earliest reviews - for my sixth site review I was asked to watch Mar Adentro and having been completely taken in, I happily rewarded it ten-out-of-ten. Almost every note seemed to strike with perfect finesse and beauty, immersing me in this simple endearing fairytale. The plot itself is fairly straight forward; the movie opens on flashcards explaining that young Jamal [Patel] - a poor nobody from the slums of Mumbai - is on the verge of winning the jackpot on popular game-show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. The police, suspecting fraud, torture and interrogate the young man before taking him through each and every question, asking how he knows the answers. Each answer reveals an element of his under-privileged life and a further clue as to how and why he got on the show in the first place.
At the heart of this film are three key characters: Jamal, his brother Salim and the object of Jamal's undying affection, Latika. The flashbacks detail the perils of growing up orphans in one of India's poorer districts, finding and losing love time-and-again and the rivalry between siblings - all brought about by unfortunate (and often horrific) circumstances. As the story spans the entirety of these young people's lives, multiple actors were employed to portray each character at various ages and all involved (many of whom having never acted before) offered lavish, wealthy performances from start to finish that imbued the film with a gritty sense of realism.
As stated, this film hits almost every note perfectly; the score (compliments of A.R. Rahman) and music used is all appropriately fantastic, the cinematography is engrossing and immersive, the editing is shot without dilution - cutting back and forth between the interrogation, the game show and flashbacks without confusing the audience - and even the exemplary use of subtle humour are all harnessed to produce an extraordinarily energetic, invigorating and uplifting gem.
9th January 2009
The Scene To Look Out For:
It is extremely hard to identify a singular moment without wanting to divulge and relive the entire proceedings. I suppose, I would highlight Salim and Jamal's time atop the various trains travelling through India, conning passengers and stealing food. The montage itself is entertaining (showing the brothers working together but with Jamal plagued by the loss of Latika) but in one particular scene, the two boys fall from the rooftop and hurtle down a dirt-road, ageing as they roll - a clever and subtle transition.
Other than all of the young leads, who offered stellar performances, the other character to note was the game-show host, Prem Kumar, played with a wealth of arrogance, ego and all the cocky, flamboyant personal traits of game-show hosts by Anil Kapoor.
"Money and women; the reasons we make most mistakes in life"
In A Few Words:
"Quite simply, one of the most profoundly beautiful and moving pieces I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing"