Where the heck is Regis Philbin?
Screenplay By: Simon Beaufoy
Directed By: Danny Boyle & Loveleen Tandan
Suspense through a maligned, at least in my eyes, game show, what an interesting premise. Slumdog Millionaire is a brilliant film, weaving in and out of the life of Jamal Malik, his brother Salim and the love interest to end all love interests, Latika. Slumdog Millionaire doesn’t sugarcoat life in India in any way, it is very much a country full of the haves and the have not’s. There is no middle ground and Slumdog Millionaire pounds that home in every scene, in every moment. But, that isn’t the strength of the movie. It’s a major plus, but it isn’t the main draw behind the movie.
The love that Jamal feels for Latika is genuine and it is his driving force all film long. It causes him to make stupid decisions, to be brave, to be foolish, and to be very, very human. Also a driving force in the film is the lack of love that Salim holds in his heart and the fact that unlike Jamal, Latika isn’t willing until the very end to allow her love for Jamal to guide her decisions. Amidst all the depravity, loss and terrible images there is the thought and clarity provided by the love that Jamal holds in his heart. It is the one shining beacon in a world full of hurt, a world that none of us want to be in, including Jamal. But, Jamal views his love, not the money he wins, as his ticket out of the poverty, violence, and horrible state of life he finds himself in. But, love isn’t the main strength of Slumdog Millionaire.
The highest point of Slumdog Millionaire, and funnily enough perhaps its only blemish, is the astounding nature in which the film is put together. The interweaving of Jamal’s story with the questions he faces on the game show is handled in deft fashion. There are a few moments that come across as too coincidental, especially the final question, and there is the entire middle train/Taj Mahal section that doesn’t fit within the narrative of Jamal’s back story bearing out in response to a question he needed to answer for the show. However, those are minor grievances in a tremendous film that triumphs in how it is cut together and the way that its musical score flows from every scene. I don’t know if the disjointed nature of the narrative would have been as effective if not for the way it worked off its musical cues. The music wasn’t necessarily powerful, but unlike most movies it melded into the film so that it didn’t seem like the cue that it was but rather an extension of the lives of the characters.
Slumdog Millionaire is a film with a lot of buzz behind it, and it is worthy of all the fanfare. It isn’t a perfect film, but it is a damn great film and a highly original film. It is yet another great film from Danny Boyle, a man that is emerging as a powerhouse director before our eyes. Slumdog Millionaire can be recommended for so many reasons, but most of all it should be recommended for its classical take on love and for its brilliant camera work, direction and use of music. If you haven’t, go see Slumdog Millionaire, you won’t be disappointed.