04 January, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Yep, I'm back

I actually have something to blog about tonight/tomorrow morning/this morning.

I have just returned from seeing one of the most amazing movies I've ever seen ... I know the word-of-mouth on it has been phenomenal and I can't disagree. Not one little, teeny, tiny bit.

Slumdog Millionaire deserves, but I'm sure won't get, the Best Picture Oscar this year. Hands down. Not that I've seen any of the other choices or even know what they are for I am not nearly the devotee as my friend Mel. But I'm still 99% sure SDM must be the very best of them all.

The storyline you can get elsewhere so in short, it is a love story. Set in India - Mumbai, to be exact. Yes, that Mumbai.

The story starts near the end, as the best ones often do. There's no harm in letting the reader/viewer know that the main character has survived long enough to at least make it to the most interesting part of the entire tale. I am always very interested in the journey, sometimes moreso than the destination.

Jamal Malik is a contestant on India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. His success on the show is surprising, given his upbringing: he and his older brother Salim are orphaned at a young age in the Mumbai slums where lives begin and end under a patchwork of tin roofs blocking the alleys and aisles from the sun. Jamal's ability to answer the increasingly difficult questions posed to him on the game show stem from the various experiences and lessons of his nomadic youth. Of course, it is assumed he is cheating but he has a compelling story for each answer he gives.

The love interest, Latika, is another orphan who falls in with the brothers after a massacre of the Muslims in their ghetto. The three young children run familiar paths past friends and neighbors and just ahead of the nightmares with bats and fire.

While Jamal becomes obsessed with Latika, Salim becomes jealous of the easy connection the two share. Life for the three of them is fraught with panicked separations and tearful reunions. Salim follows an unsurprising path in the hard world they inhabit while Jamal always seems to think his way in and out of the box.

You know ... just your typical love story. Set in India.

Where this movie breaks entirely away from the pack is in the filmmaking. This well-written gem is wonderfully directed and beautifully shot with a soundtrack that pulses to the beat of the running feet throughout several scenes (escape is a running theme). The actors, all three sets of them, are no sloths at their trade. Dev Patel as the adult Jamal has the perfect face for this character: mostly brooding with a rare, shy smile.

I expected quite a lot from the movie given the reviews I had heard and read and I am so relieved that I didn't end up with unrequited high hopes. This is a run-don't-walk kind of film that mere words cannot properly portray.

Don't grab your coat too quickly once the final scene goes still ... in Bollywood fashion, the end credits begin to roll as the cast dance to an Indian pop song in the middle of a train station. I heard a couple of snickers in the audience behind me, but you know what? I am of the opinion that all movies should end with a full cast ensemble song and dance. I would certainly see more movies in the theatre if that were the case.

1 comment:

Danielle Filas said...

Welcome back! Sounds like a really interesting flick...