Friday, December 5, 2008

Review - Slumdog Millionaire

18 year old Jamal Malik is one question away from winning 20 million rupees on the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. How did he get to this point? Did he get there on his intellegence? Did he cheat? Perhaps it was luck or maybe it is his destiny? With one question to go, the show breaks for the evening and Jamal is arrested under suspicion of cheating. In order to prove his innoncence, Jamal must tell his troubled story of how he and his orphaned brother grew up in the slums of Mumbai and of the girl he has always loved and lost. Every chapter of Jamal's compelling life he tells to the police, reveal his vital knowledge of the scaling questions. Leaving one question to answer, why did Jamal become a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire when he has no real desire for the money?

Director Danny Boyle who is no slumdog when it comes to film making, proves once again he can deliver a poignant tale no matter the genre. Slumdog Millionaire is a brilliant film that develops in a compelling fashion unfolding each chapter of Jamal's torrmented life with beautiful storytelling and magnificent character development. Boyle's trimuph comes in the unique storytelling that is directly tied into the Hindi television show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Every question leading up to 20 million rupees, spins another intriguing chapter of Jamal's life. All of the chapters lead up to an outstanding climax that questions of how anyone comes to know the things they understand about life and love.

At the heart of Slumdog Millionaire is a wonderful and heartwrenching love story between Jamal and Latika. Jamal and Latika make a connection as children when both of their parents were brutally killed in a anti-muslim attack. Jamal, his brother Salim and Latika being orphaned are forced to fend for themselves as children. Latika however, becomes a wedge between the two brothers, leaving the triangluar relationship struggled and often torn apart. Jamal struggles to find Latika at different stages of his life, which becomes an enormous task in the sprawling city of Mumbai.

The performances and storytelling in Slumdog Millionaire are outstanding to say the least. Slumdog being a coming of age tale, utilizes 3 different actors for the characters of Jamal, Salim and Latika at the various stages of their young lives. The performances come together in a seemless fashion and all are magnificently portrayed by the various actors. Dev Patel who plays the eighteen year old Jamal, delivers an sensastional performance as the astonished contestant of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire that finds each question relating in some way to his life. The standout performance in Slumdog Millionaire comes from the youngest Jamal, played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar. The little boy is brilliant as Jamal on screen and through the compelling storytelling his performance becomes one to remember.

Anil Kapoor, who has graced India's cinema since the 1980s, perfectly plays the pompous and energizing host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. His scenes with Dev Patel are rousing and telling to the overlying story behind Jamal's appearence on Millionaire. Irfan Khan as the police inspector, is equally impressive and also shares some more than memorable scenes with Patel. Freida Pinto in her first role, delivers striking performance as the oldest Latika, that is sure to get her some acknowledgement and further leading roles in the future. The entire cast of Slumdog Millionarie deserves recgonition for their outstanding performances and further should be said for the casting direction. Gail Stevens and Loveleen Tandan did a remarkable job filling out Boyle's film with talented actors that did nothing but impress throughout Slumdog Millionaire's 120 running time.

Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography throughout Slumdog Millionaire is breathtaking and does an glorious job of capturing Mumbai's massive city and energy to create a urban realism that is flawless. The cinematography ultimately drives the Boyle's fantastic love story through gripping images and beautiful memories that tie Jamal's stories together in tenacious fashion. Equally impressive, is the score and soundtrack to Slumdog Millionaire. A.R. Rahman and M.I.A. in a collabrative effort, deliver a musical score that also beckons the energy of Mumbai's various districts and slums. The score when combined with Mantle's intoxicating cinematography make Boyle's mesmorizing film just an absolute joy to watch keeping the viewer enthralled and on the edge of the seat through the climax into the fantastic Bollywood ending.

Slumdog Millionaire is a cut above the rest and is just a inspirational movie going experience. Danny Boyle, who already has an illustrious catalog of cross-genre film making, delivers a stimulating film that touches the heart through a wonderfully weaved tale of lost love. Slumdog Millionaire is a touching and titulating story that comes highly recommended and is sure to find its self with some Oscar nominations this coming year.