Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Feel-Good Movie, Filmed Partly In Hell

slumdog_millionaire_movie_image'Slumdog Millionaire' will make you laugh! 'Slumdog Millionaire' will make you cry! 'Slumdog Millionaire' is the feel-good movie of the year! 

Well... maybe not 'laugh'... You will probably see this movie, which I expect will harvest nominations and awards, get wide distribution, and enter the collective American consciousness.. It's a very well-constructed, riveting fairy tale, told in flashbacks right before the final broadcast of Mumbai's version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire.' I'll tell you enough to frame the film and whet your appetite, while giving nothing at all away.   It's directed by Danny Boyle of 'Trainspotting' fame...

slumdogmillionaireWhat makes this very different is that it takes place in India, where poverty is far more extreme and precarious than in the United States.. I wonder how Americans will react to being thrown into a world where hundreds of millions fall through the cracks, without education or hope, eeking their living out on the mean streets, where death from starvation and malnutrition are frequent, where infant mortality is at 19th century levels.. When two small children are orphaned, early in the flashbacks, no social service agency comes to place them in foster homes.. Indeed, when adults intervene, it is with unspeakably dark intentions.. The small boys run for their lives, but the younger boy swears to come back and rescue a young girl he's befriend, and, in an innocent, pre-school way, fallen in love with.

This grim tableau is contrasted with a glitzy game show and lively scenes of present-day India.    But the pacing is breakneck and the disturbing past is served as a puzzle to put together. And, of course know that the hero survived to make his game show appearance.  
 The main lead actor, Dev Patel, is sad, quiet decency personified, despite the horrors he lives through.   Each of the three young protagonists must be played by three different actors at different ages, and they did such a good job, that it's almost hard to believe they didn't use the same cast and film it over 9 years!   This is especially important, because the film jumps around in time so much that if you couldn't immediately tell who you were looking at, it would be very confusing, which it isn't.

Here's the preview...

this entry's permalink
Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?