"It is written." -Slumdog Millionaire
What is Slumdog Millionaire?
A) A new rapper
B) A lovable cartoon character
C) The spin-off to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
D) A critically acclaimed film by Danny Boyle that you should watch as soon as possible.
When you live in Texas like the PR gals, you hear about buzzed about films like Slumdog Millionaire, and patiently wait until it makes its way to an indie film theater down south. In the meantime, the expectations build and anticipation grows as friends in NYC and LA see it and critics rave. Then when the movie does make it to a theater near you, you have such incredibly high expectations, it is sure to be a let down. I can happily say, that was not the case with Boyle's masterpiece. The film is everything it is promised to be by the amazing critics' reviews and media frenzy--a must see emotional rags to riches fairy tale that leaves you inspired and awed.
The film follows Jamal (British actor Dev Patel) from his childhood in a Mumbai slum to the hotseat of the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. How he gets there is a wonderfully woven story of chance and suffering with superb acting and a gritty portrayal of Mumbai. It is interesting to see Mumbai without the glitz and glamour usually presented by Bollywood and it is especially eerie in light of the recent attacks. But at the heart of Slumdog Millionaire are two important things: persistance--illustrated with the childhood journey of Jamal and his hardheaded cynic brother Salim (adult role played by Madhur Mittal) and love--a la the despair filled love story of Jamal and Latika (played as an adult by Indian actress Frieda Pinto). The cast is supported by the arrogant host of the popular Millionaire game show, Prem, played by Bollywood veteran Anil Kapoor and the detective interrogating Jamal, acted beautifully by Irrfan Khan (A Mighty Heart, The Namesake).
However, the performances that will probably make the most lasting impression (they certainly did on me) are the three child actors that play the young Jamal, Salim and Latika. Two of the three young actors actually grew up in the slums and spoke no English. After the film was shot, Boyle enrolled them in school and promised them a "tidy sum of money" for after graduation.
I could go on about the film forever but you've already figured out the answer is D. So, stop reading. Get to the theater. Watch this film. If it is playing near you, you'll be glad you did.
PR rating: A manicured thumbs up. We thought this was one of the best films we have seen in a long time. The buzz should not be taken lightly--we're keeping our fingers crossed this wonderful movie walks away with an Oscar.
image source: Slumdog Millionaire still, Fox Searchlight Pictures