Monday, January 19, 2009

A Rambling Review of Slumdog Millionaire

I had heard very little of this movie but I have to admit the title is intriguing. However I was not sold on the idea from what little I knew of the movie which was some poor kid in India wins big on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" I figured it would be about the struggles after he gets the money. I decided to take a pass and possibly rent it one day. Then I read a friend's blog. Now let me tell you about this friend, his name is Francisco and I have known him since my high school days. Recently we reconnected during my most recent visit to Phoenix. I learned a little about him and what he is up to these days over lunch. One of the things he does is teach a class as a community college that is an intro to film production. It sounded interesting and this guy knows his stuff. So I decided to check out his reviews of movies. I read a raving review of Slumdog Millionaire there and I moved the movie from my "to Rent" list on to my "see in the theater list". Francisco's blog is and he has a lot of reviews there, please check it out. As I said before, I don't listen to critics but I listen to people I know. I am glad I listened, this movie is great. Without further ado, I bring you my review of Slumdog Millionaire.

I can't say that I know much about India besides the fact that I love their food. I know a little from watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show. There are some pretty tough areas to grow up in India. That is where our hero, Jamal lives as a child with his mother and older brother Salim. In a little slum filled to the brim with people and every spare spot is filled by a shack of a home. That of course is not where we start, we start with Jamal being tortured. The police are interrogating him to find out how he knew all the answers of the Millionaire game show to prove that he cheated. As he is repeatedly questioned Jamal's life story is told as he explains how he knew all the answers to the questions. Every single question is linked to a memory of his life and most of them are not good memories. So we flash between his life and the interrogation as the story moves along, and it moves fast. We start back in the slum he grew up in while he talks about how he answered the first question, which, like in America, is a simple answer. It is a funny story abut getting an autograph from the most famous man in India but also a sad one as his brother steals it and sells it. We now have our roles set, Jamal is a dreamer that is also determined and his determination gets him through a lot of tough spots and Salim is the schemer and willing to do anything for a little money. Jamal believes in his brother all the way through the movie long past when you want him too. This is not simply a story about brothers though, it is a fated love story. Jamal and Latika belong together and he risks everything several times to make that happen. Latika is a girl he meets the same day his mother is killed in front of him as he and his brother run for safety. Every story he tells the officers about his life also tells how he came to know the answer of a question in the game show. His life story is heartbreaking, intense and enthralling. My friend Francisco says that director Danny Boyle takes you on a roller coaster ride and he certainly does. This film hits every emotion as it unfolds before your eyes. It is a great ride though and one you should check out soon.

Just a little info you may want to know. This movie is violent, brutal and at times scary. There is violence, child abuse, kidnapping and some real hard scenes to watch. Having come clean about this I implore you to see it anyway. Even though there are a lot of twists and turns in this movie, the true story of the importance of family and love comes through.

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