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Slumdog Millionaire: A Frenetic Tale of Heartbreak and Joy

Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire isn't the kind of movie that sits back and waits for you to fall in love with it. It doesn't give you the chance to refuse. From the opening minutes, it washes over you, sucks you in, and spins you through a whirlwind of colors and sounds and emotions. It's a movie that is completely, gloriously alive.

The movie centers on Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an Indian teenager who's poised to win 20,000,000 rupees in his country's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The movie opens with him kidnapped and tortured by police who want to know who's feeding Jamal the answers. Doctors and lawyers don't even win the way he has; how could a kid from the streets possibly know all of this? The rest of the movie unfolds around that question, as Jamal explains through flashbacks and memories how every moment of his life has brought him here.

It's a joy to watch, but that doesn't mean it's an entirely joyful movie; parts of Jamal's story are downright painful, in the same way that watching The Wire makes me ache inside. But Slumdog never falls too deeply into heartbreak. Mirroring the path of its protagonist's life, every moment is another brick building to a perfect conclusion. For the rest of my thoughts, just

.

Slumdog traces Jamal and his older brother, Salim, through three phases of their life, starting when they're boys orphaned in a religious riot. Props to the casting directors for finding two of the cutest, pluckiest kids on earth to play the young Salim and Jamal; child Jamal's wide-eyed sweetness goes a long way toward creating a fondness for the teenage version. The two escape one near-tragedy only to stumble into another, surviving only by their street smarts and a little bit of luck. In one sequence, the boys sneak onto a passenger train, make some money selling trinkets on board, get caught stealing food from the dining car, and are ultimately (and literally) thrown off; MIA's "Paper Planes" is the background music there, and it's the saddest that song has ever sounded. Things only get tougher as the boys age and start to move in different directions: Jamal charming but shy, Salim a rough-and-tough gangster who's always tempting danger.

Throughout it all there's Latika, the girl Jamal and Salim find during the riots and bring into their tight-knit world — their third Musketeer. Even as a child, Jamal feels it's his destiny to be with her, and that belief drives all of his actions over the next decade, no matter how reckless or improbable. In the midst of a very modern movie that bursts with color and drumbeats and quick, handheld camera shots, Danny Boyle and his cast create an old-fashioned romance.

Considering the breadth of what the movie covers — Bombay's shift from sprawling slums to gleaming megalopolis, the growth of three characters played by three different actors apiece, the seamless meeting of flashbacks and the present — Boyle's confident direction does a remarkable job of tying everything together, while Bollywood legend A.R. Rahman's soundtrack propels it forward with a driving beat. And while Slumdog is hardly subtle with its ending, it's earned; it's the only ending that fits. It left me clapping with joy through streaming tears, an absolute ode to love.

Photos courtesy of Fox Searchlight


Join The Conversation
NYC0820 NYC0820 8 years
The acting by these kids was AWESOME!!
NYC0820 NYC0820 8 years
I LOVE, LOVE,LOVE THIS!!! All the children in the this movie DESERVE to be acknowledged in a huge way they carried the movie. These kids DESERVE ALOT MORE PUBLICITY FOR THEIR IN THE MOVIE. Danny Boyle deserves an Oscar for the film!!
thetoneishopeful thetoneishopeful 8 years
"From the opening minutes, it washes over you, sucks you in, and spins you through a whirlwind of colors and sounds and emotions. It's a movie that is completely, gloriously alive." that is just a PERFECT description of this wonderful, amazing movie. I'm so happy that it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture! I hope more people will go see this movie.
reactionary reactionary 8 years
i'm pretty happy i went into this movie not knowing anything about it. i walked out of it with the movie in my top three of all time. having no expectations to what i was about to see only made the end result better. if you choose not to go see it, you're really missing out on one of the most beautifully crafted, emotionally resonating films of the year, at the very least. it was incredible. just the first scene with jamal and salim as children, you're glued to the screen.
fakeplanettelex fakeplanettelex 8 years
movie of the year and very reminiscent of city of god, which is another favorite movie of mine.
nancita nancita 8 years
I have been hearing all sorts of fuss but wondering what all the fuss was really about. This review really makes me intrigued now...the premise sounds fascinating.
prettygirl prettygirl 8 years
such a great movie!
vlada vlada 8 years
I really enjoyed it. Of the top contenders I've seen so far, this is my favorite.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
I'm gonna see it.
zenapogee zenapogee 8 years
Am I the only one that finds the movie wasn't as great as it is hyped up to be. Certainly an achievement, by some of the actors seemed vacant and had a "caught in the headlights" look and feel to their acting. And, along those lines, am I the only one who doesn't understand how Dev Patel scored a SAG nomination over more deserving actors.
cupcakers cupcakers 8 years
Everyone should see this movie, it's amazing! I agree goatimpact I am glad Anil Kapoor is getting recognition outside of Bollywood, he was great as the shady host. I'm glad they chose him instead of a bigger Bollywood star. the young Jamal was incredibly cute and can't believe how good he was! I LOVE the autograph scene!!
pinkcheerio pinkcheerio 8 years
This film was incredible. My favourite this year. It really, really deserves Best Picture at the Oscars- I'll be so disappointed if it doesn't win.
lillovelygrl33 lillovelygrl33 8 years
this movie was phenomenal! ALIVE is the perfect way to describe it. Easily one of, if not the film of the year - it has definitely made it's way into my list of favorites. I can't say enough good things about this movie GO SEE IT
fashion4ward fashion4ward 8 years
Oh, this was a perfect film! If I wasn't loyal to MILK, this would be my fave of the year.
GratefulGrl80 GratefulGrl80 8 years
i REALLY want to see this movie!!
Antioxidant Antioxidant 8 years
I loved this film.
ebgirl ebgirl 8 years
I haven't had the chance to see this yet, but hope to see it within the next week. Everyone I know who's seen it has loved it.
Grantz Grantz 8 years
What a very eloquent review. Its one of my top five favorites of the year too. Cheers~ Grantz
Punk-Glam-Queen Punk-Glam-Queen 8 years
I just saw this over last weekend. I love the way Jamal explains his answers through flashbacks -- but not in a trite way. I walked away saying to my husband that I thought the storytelling, direction, music, casting, acting was done to perfection. Through my tears I was dancing along with the final number, exuberant with the ending!
magalaya magalaya 8 years
This movie was amazing, I just saw it a few days ago and it's definitely become one of my favourites!
kia kia 8 years
This was a great movie. Not the type of movie I generally want to see. There was too much reality in it for me. I go to movies to escape and there was too much real world in it that left me sullen and quite when I left the theater. I am also the type of person that has not seen Schindler's List and Philadelphia for the whole reality reasons and those were apparently great movies too. I did laugh hysterically when Jamal got the movie star's autograph though.
pimprenelle pimprenelle 8 years
I'm so gonna go see this whenever it's out in the UK. I'm so happy Anwar from Skins is in this movie, he's such a talented actor, it gives me another reason to go see this.
figurine figurine 8 years
Yes, definitely going to watch this one soon! :D
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Thanks for a great review, Buzz! I am so looking forward to seeing this next weekend.
spacebear spacebear 8 years
i loved, loved, loved this movie. some parts were predictable but i didn't care! it was so great. and i agree on the props to the casting director on finding the cutest kid to play little jamal.
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