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Movie Review - Slumdog Millionaire

Brad Kreft
Brad Kreft

Even if you have been hiding under a rock, you still would’ve heard of this one.

On its way to cleaning up 8 statutes at the Academy Awards this year, Slumdog Millionaire wiped the floor with the likes of Benjamin Button and Doubt; films stacked with big names and big budgets. But is this energetic little flick worth all the praise?
Yes. Oh yes.
Adapted from the novel Q & A by Indian author Vikas Swarup, Slumdog Millionaire follows the story of a young slum-dwelling orphan who scores a place on India’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. Of course there’s no surprises as to the outcome of his appearance on the game show, as it’s right there in the title but that’s not the point of the movie; it’s all about the telling. The surprise is in finding out how an un-educated orphan managed to answer so many questions, with so much at stake.
The trailers and newspaper ads are painting Slumdog up as ‘uplifting’ but that doesn’t mean you should go into it expecting sunshine and roses. This is a dark, gritty little tale, exploring the dirtier side of Indian cities and society which may catch some people off guard if they’re going in thinking bright and breezy Eddie McGuire. The real power of the movie comes from the struggles this little kid had in just surviving long enough to even sit in the hot-seat in the first place.
With that said, there is something so vivid and exciting about this movie that overpowers the darkness of the story. Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) captures the often squalid and unappealing locations of the movie with a flair and energy that reflects the fast-paced atmosphere of the bustling cities in which it is based. From the frenzied chase scenes to the colourfully-bordered subtitles, there is something quite remarkable in the way this material has been transformed onscreen. There is also a pleasant shot of humour running through the film, which breaks up the heavy material in several places.
It must be said that the Indian kids who play the younger versions of the movie’s heroes inject an energy and life into the story which is only capable from children. They are, almost, the true stars in a cast of relative no-names. However, Skins fans will recognise talented Brit teen Dev Patel in his feature film debut, playing the lead role.
With all the talk surrounding this movie after it’s success at the big show last week, it really is a must-see- and not just because you’ll miss out on vital water-cooler chit-chat if not. Slumdog is a brilliant movie which captures the spirit of its excellent source novel despite numerous story changes. Part drama, part love story, there will be something in this that almost everyone will enjoy. For me, it fully deserved to cart away 8 Oscars in a year of stiff competition. I highly recommend.
Oh and for those of you familiar with my post a few weeks back on Slumdog: I eat my words with pleasure.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Rajendranath Zutshi, Irfan Khan.

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