Thursday, December 11, 2008


Have you ever experienced a film so vivid you swear you can almost smell it? And yes, I'm pretty sure it wasn't coming from the guy sitting next to me. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE's vibrant in-your-face cinematography, clever editing, and brilliant choreography put its audiences right in the middle of the action, flooding your senses with the sounds and colors of the streets of India, the taste of poverty, the stench of corruption, and the heartbreak and joy that true love brings.

Essentially a modern day story of undying love and devotion, SM follows 20-year old street boy Jamal Malik's quest to win the ultimate prize of India's version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" while the whole nation cheers him on. Through cleverly devised flashbacks, we learn about Jamal's hard life -- orphaned at a young age, he and older brother Salim grew up surviving the harshest conditions of the slums of Mumbai, narrowly escaping a childhood of torture and slavery from the hands of an unscrupulous child labor syndicate, and hustling their way through their teens. But even with what they have been through together, the brothers went their separate ways because of Latika, the girl with whom Jamal fell in love when they were 6 years old. In fact, tonight, being on the hot seat, isn't about winning the money. Jamal simply hopes that Latika is watching her favorite show so he can reach out to her.

The screenplay isn't perfect but is cleverly written nonetheless. British actor Dev Patel is getting rave reviews for his strong and charming portrayal of Jamal. But I was even more impressed by the young cast playing the threesome of Jamal, Salim and Latika in various ages. These kids will take you into a wild ride of emotions. Danny Boyle's confident direction makes you forget that you are actually watching a very graphic film about police brutality, child abuse, gangster violence, and the cruel realities of India's poorest of the poor. Yet you are guaranteed to cheer on as the movie reaches its Bollywoodesque ending, maybe even shedding some tears of joy.

This is SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE's true success: it offers an escape for all kinds of people. The desperate will find hope that life can be better after all. While the privileged and the lucky ones will be forever thankful that their lives aren't so bad to begin with.

~ Michael Gamilla

Slumdog Millionaire opens in Rochester on Friday, Dec. 12.

1 comment:

radioman said...

Excellent review Mr. G.
I saw this film in Toronto a few weeks before it opened around these parts, and e-mailed all my friends to be sure to see it. I was getting weary of mentioning this wonderful movie to people, only to see a blank expression when I'd mention the, admittedly, odd title. Finally this movie is becoming familiar to people, and I hope everyone is putting it on their short list of "must-see" flms. It's captivating from beginning to end, and deserves all the critics favorable coments.