OK, so I put it off as long as I could, which turned out to be about 10 hours, because I didn’t want to immediately post a long, overly gushing movie review right off the bat. But I’ll come clean: this was my most anticipated movie of 2008, and since the second time I saw it it’s become one of my favorite movies of all time. And no one I’ve talked to yet has disliked this movie.
It’s difficult to describe how unequivocally awesome Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire is. We already knew Boyle was a great director after Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, but this movie blows away both of those combined, and pretty much any other film released this year. Sure, you could listen to the complaints that it’s too fairy-tale, unrealistic, sentimental, gimmicky, but those are minor quibbles in the face of a movie that evades the trappings of sentimentality or cheesiness and becomes, really, a movie unlike any other that’s been made.
As far as the plot goes (minor spoiler alert): Slumdog Millionaire is the story of Jamal Malik, a boy from the slums of India who becomes a participant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He is one question away from winning 20,000,000 rupees, and the movie uses the game as a framing device to tell Jamal’s life story–with each question, we get a flashback to an event in his life that provided the answer. The story is so brilliantly told that I don’t want to give any more away, suffice to say that Jamal is searching for Latika, the love of his life. Yeah, it’s a romance, but it’s really impossible to pigeonhole this movie into any one genre. Like I said, it’s unlike any film I’ve seen before.
I saw this movie twice because it was so damn good, and I can safely say that it was worth it. It’s cinematic in the best way possible–the colors and action essentially jump off the screen, an effect made possible by the astounding cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle and addictive score by A. R. Rahman. Since I can’t ramble on forever about the genius of this movie, I’ll pick out two things: 1) Dev Patel’s performance as the older Jamal. I didn’t really appreciate it until the second time, but he manages to be restrained at the same time while still conveying the emotions brought up by his life story and making his determined love for Latika completely convincing. He was definitely snubbed by the Oscars (did we really need Downey Jr. to be nominated for Tropic Thunder?) and I hope to see more of him in future films. 2) Duh. Danny Boyle. Without him this movie wouldn’t have worked, period. The screenplay is great, the acting is great, hell, even the subtitles are great, but Boyle left his mark all over this movie, which means that it becomes larger than life and easily the most engaging cinematic experience of the year.
In short? Believe the hype. Danny Boyle deserves the Oscar, and so does this movie.