Monday, January 12, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I had been wanting to see Slumdog Millionaire since hearing of the premise based on the book Q & A by Vikas Swarup. The movie is essentially the story of a young man who grows up in the slums of India, falls in love with a girl, and realizes the opportunity to get back with her after a series of tragic events by appearing on the Indian Television Program, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. With the success of the television program in America, and the reality that many wonderful movies have come from India in recent years, I couldn’t pass up the temptation to see this movie. Slumdog Millionaire is a movie that is catching steam and with recent accomplishments at the Golden Globe Awards, a movie that may get serious Oscar consideration, as it should. Hopefully beyond that, it starts to get into more movie theaters for patrons to see.

I was somewhat upset going into the movie as a movie theater employee refused to let my sons girlfriend into the movie, despite her being 17 and with us. I gave the employee at the Warren Cinemas in Wichita the benefit of the doubt, as my son and his girlfriend went off to a local establishment nearby while my wife and I went to see the movie. After seeing the powerful film on screen, one of my first thoughts was a thought of anger, the MPAA rates, terrible films that glorify sex, violence and more PG-13 and here was a movie rated R that refused entry to for a 17 year old with adults. A movie that has more potential to get the self gratifying, selfish attitude of many in America to consider the realities of the harsh world we live in. There has to be something done at some point to get people to realize the overall redeeming value of a movie beyond the rating.

Whew, I got that off my chest, but now about the movie. Danny Boyle is a terrific director who just won the Golden Globe for direction for this film. To understand the talent of Boyle you have to consider that he is the same person who directed films such as Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, and the terrific zombie style film, 28 Days Later. Slumdog Millionaire is a tale much different than any of these stories, and the diversity and talent of Boyle shines through in what may simply be one of the best directed films and efforts at storytelling in some time.

In many ways, Slumdog Millionaire is a terrific effort of storytelling. We follow the lives of three children to adulthood and the tragedy of growing up poor in India. Two brothers, Jamal played by Dev Patel, his older brother, Salim, played by Madhur Mittal, and Latika, played by Fredia Pinto. We follow these three primarily through a series of flashbacks and via three stages of life where the primary characters are played by other cast members from childhood, to youth, to young adults. The horror, the tragedy displayed throughout the film should have the viewer considering the plight of the poor, but more than this, we eventually come to an extremely satisfying conclusion where we see the power of hope, although we see that the hope one has isn’t based on whether or not one finds satisfaction in wealth, but whether or not one finds love.

I must comment on several components of this film, from its direction to acting, editing, and soundtrack it is a near perfect film. Not only does it in my opinion address the reality of the poor in the world, thus making fantastic social commentary, but it finds in a way to captivate the audience with beautiful storytelling, laced with terrific sound and song, and a story that is terrifically entertaining. In the two hour movie I was never bored, not an instant, not a second, I didn’t want the movie to end it was so good, but it does end, and after looking back on it, it ends in a way that transforms many in the audience of the things that are really important. Faith, Hope and Love!

I can think of a passage from the Bible this movie drove home. 1st Corinthians 13:13 states; “For now there are faith, hope, and love. But of these three, the greatest is love.”

While there is truth here, there is also truth we can learn regarding the faith and hope love can bring, and the inspiration it provides others. Slumdog Millionaire in a beautiful way, also reminded me of the story of Cane and Abel from the Bible. Slumdog Millionare also shows the power one can have when they exercise faith and live life as if there is purpose, a life driven by love, focused on love despite heartache, difficulty, terror, and at times resembling Hell on Earth. We see how one can conquer adversity, even coming at the hands of one who is supposed to love, we see the horror of hate, even when it comes at the hands of religion. We see it all, but ultimately, we see the power of love and the ability of that love to delver faith and hope to the multitudes around them.

I loved virtually everything about this film. It was a rare gem where I expected a great deal, and it delivered beyond my lofty expectations. I will see it again, no ifs ands or buts about it. Slumdog Millionaire deserves an even larger audience than it is getting. It is a film that does everything a film is supposed to. I am fairly confident that most will be glad they went to see this movie if they in fact make that decision.

How good is it, well it swept all 4 categories in the Golden Globes it was nominated for including, Best Drama, Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Screenplay. For a little known film that a lot of people haven’t heard about, we can see that even when it comes to awards, the underdog, the unknown, the orphan of the movie world can still win, the inspiration continues.

On a scale of 1 – 10, while this is not the most perfect movie you will ever see, it is pretty close, so, for each of the actors that played the primary three characters in the film, plus the obnoxiously evil host of the millionaire, (not Regis or Meredith) I give a very deserving 10.

To see the trailer for the movie, Slumdog Millionaire click on the following video, if the video don't appear, just click on the link:

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