Thursday, 11 December 2008

Slumdog Millionaire - A Review

Another day, another preview. And another tale of obstinate willpower, although this time it is only fiction.

Danny Boyle’ Slumdog Millionaire is, very loosely, adapted from Vikas Swarup’s novel Q&A and tells the story of Jamal Malik and his brother Salim, two kids from one of India’s biggest slum in Mumbai.

Jamal is about to win 20m Rupees on the TV show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? but has just been roughly bundled off to the local police station on suspicion of having cheated. After a little “persuasion” he finally tells his story and how he knew the answers to the questions has been asked so far on the show. Each question kick starts a flashback to an episode of his life, most of which include violence and abject poverty.

Through this we learn of the love hate relationship between the two brothers and of Jamal’s quest to be reunited to the love of his life, Latika.


A few months back, Radio 4 Woman’s Hour had aired a 5 part radio adaptation of the book that I had greatly enjoyed listening to. Adding this to the hype surrounding the film, I was greatly looking forward to that screening.

While I wasn’t disappointed and am glad I saw the film, I wasn’t overwhelmed by it either.

The cinematography was indeed quite interesting with some unusual and very effective camera work. Sadly, Boyle seemed to get a little carried away with that at times and certain shots should, I think, have ended on the floor of the editing room and be remade a little more carefully (too much movement in close ups create nothing but uncomfortable and unhelpful blur).

I have never been to India and have to confess that I know fairly little about the country but the film seemed to me to be a plausibly authentic depiction of modern India with its beautiful, varied and colourful scenery, its incredible poverty and its rapid but haphazard westernisation. Although it was perhaps a little too pessimistic in its portrayal of corruption and crime.


Trailer for the film

I find it difficult to pin-point what didn’t quite work for me in the film. It looked great, Jamal’s character was quite loveable and the story took you along with it. I laughed and got misty eyed. Everything that great film should offer really. I think however that like some of the images, the story telling lacked a little focus and concision. Perhaps little more editing would do the trick. I don’t know.

At the end of the day though, the film is a bittersweet love story with a twist – a chick-flick with brains, one might say – and as such it was quite enjoyable.

Slumdog Millionaire on Wikipedia

4 comments:

  1. Andra sent me a link to your blog! Good stuff! I completely agree with your review of this film. Very good, and uplifting, but the spark wasn't there.

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  2. Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. Just back from India so absolutely agog to see it ... glad you thought it was worthwhile x

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  4. Gosh, 'a chick-flick with brains'?! Did you and I see the same movie? I thought it a hard-hitting tale of contemporary life in India, contrasting eviscerating poverty with the rise of a new middle-clas, all wrapped up in a very contemporary, almost culture-less fairytale! Plus, it presents a sympathetic portrayal of Islam in a world that is fast beginning to view anyone who practices that religion as Pariah! It's all just so on the money, Mr. I'd be quite content for it to get Best Pic at the Oscars...

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