Okay, so I rarely if ever buy a movie that I haven’t already seen. Even more of a rarity is me buying a movie on the basis of the awards it has won. Yet, I found myself at Wal-Mart last night looking at “Slumdog Millionaire” and I thought I might give it a shot. The last time I purchased a movie that won Best Picture at the Oscars – and I had not yet seen it – was when I bought “Schindler’s List”. That shows you just how far in between these rare moments truly are! I love good movies, and this one was a very good film. It had a very unique concept and I found myself engrossed in the story.
One of the features of this film that I really enjoyed was the way in which it was filmed. Some of the angles are brilliant, and even some of the sequencing of a scene is just outstanding! I look at this film and I realize why it won so many awards. It is beautifully put together, has a charming lead, has a very “fresh” look to it, and a unique concept behind it. These elements together make for a powerhouse at the Oscars. A note to any would-be Oscar guessers: always look for a film that has a combination of elements working for it (minus Costume Design, which seems to be a lot more hit-or-miss these days).
Dev Patel plays Jamal the lead character of the story and I think this young man has a brilliant career ahead of him. He has a sincerity to him and a purity that comes out in his performance. It is wonderful to see such new talent that has a lot of depth to what he can bring to the screen. I just hope that he isn’t misused in the future. SOMEBODY find this young man a vehicle to star in! Please, don’t put him in some silly comedy filled with Indian stereotypes.
The young actors who really play in much of the movie are directed very well. I’m not sure how much was Danny Boyle and how much was his counterpart in India. I don’t have much of a sense as to which director worked on what aspect of the film. Regardless, the execution of their talents, separately or combined, is worth the awards given. The film just has a style to the way in which it was shot that is eye-catching and very clever. There is a lot of very bright back-lighting of the actors which causing a sort of silhouette in the foreground. It’s rather brilliant! The end result is when actors come in front of the lighting they block it out and suddenly seem to be highlighted. I thought it was ingenious!
The story has a lot going for it. Told mostly through flashbacks, the film takes you (at the beginning of the film) from nearly the end of the film and regresses to the main character’s childhood. Featuring the game show of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” as the centerpiece of the story, the story explains how the character knows the answer to each of the questions asked on the game show. More importantly, there is the lead character Jamal’s interaction and relationships with his brother Salim and his love interest Latika. We see how his relationship with both of these characters evolve as the story unfolds. It was fairly predictable as far as outcomes, but the film was so engrossing that I found I didn’t care.
One last note about the film: the end credits dance number was very cool. Heck, the ending of the film itself is positively exquisite. Okay, so I am a romantic sap, but I loved the ending! There is something really touching about the way the movie ends. The end credits were worth watching for the juxtaposition of the lead actors as adults over the child actors. The end credits feature the hit song “Jai Ho” and a very Bali-wood dance ensemble piece. Some could argue it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the film, but I thought it was a fun way to really end the film.
So, if you are feeling up to a good solid movie, complete with a catchy look to it and a clever story – and powered by a fine young actor – then I highly recommend “Slumdog Millionaire”!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.
- Slumdog Millionaire (inadifferentdirection.wordpress.com)
- Slumdog Millionaire’s Bollywood Ancestors (3quarksdaily.com)