Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire, Best Movie by Far

by George I ’10

Every so often,
an independent film comes
along and makes a splash in
awards scene. For the past
couple of years, it was Juno
and Little Miss Sunshine.
This year, that film is undoubtedly
Slumdog Millionaire.
The film has already
received heaps of critical appraise,
and won eight Oscars
at this year’s awards. Slumdog
Millionaire, directed by
Danny Boyle, a Brit, is an
epic tale of one boy’s life
through the slums of India
and how he ended up on the
Hindi version of Who Wants
to Be a Millionaire, the most
watched show in all of India.
The film opens with him on
the hot seat on the edge of
winning twenty million rupees.
A question is posed to
the audience: how did Jamal
Malik, an uneducated slum
kid, reach his way to the top?
Did he cheat, is he a genius,
or maybe even lucky? Or is
it perhaps destiny? Over the
next two hours, the audience
is shown the life Jamal Malik
through a series of flashbacks
that are initiated by
the questions Jamal is asked
on the game show. How Jamal
knows the answer to the
questions is shown through
these flashbacks.
But the audience
gets more than just answers
to trivia from the flashbacks;
they are treated with the portrait
of not just a boy, but the
entire slums of India. Jamal
has been through a lot, from
being orphaned in an anti-
Muslim raid, to escaping a
child-exploitation ring, to
hustling at the Taj Mahal, to
rescuing his love from the
clutches of a gangster. On
the journey with Jamal is his
brother Salim, and a later on
a girl named Latika, whom
Jamal has had feelings for
his entire life. Latika is the
reason Jamal goes on the
game show; he hopes she
will be watching. The ending
of Slumdog Millionaire
is one of the most satisfying
I have ever seen. After
all that Jamal, and the audience,
has been through, the
happy ending is inspiring
and heartwarming. While
the concept of destiny in
the ending, and throughout
the movie, may seem corny,
it fits in perfectly with the
mood and intentions of the
film. The recurring theme of
destiny in the film has been
criticized, but it is appropriate
for a film as rooted in
fantasy and daydreams as
Slumdog Millionaire is.
In fact, by the ending
embrace, the audience
has learned to accept destiny’s
role and the movie and
they embrace it as well. The
ending credits with its Bollywood
style dance-off will
leave you in a celebratory
mood that won’t wear off
anytime soon.
Danny Boyle indulges
in a heightened sense
reality with Slumdog. With
his kaleidoscope cinematography,
sweeping camera
moves, crazy jump cuts, and
flashes through time, Boyle
paints an endearing picture
of modern India, with all of
its noise, energy, and life.
Simon Beaufoy wrote the
screenplay for Slumdog,
basing it loosely on the novel
Q&A by Vikas Swarup.
There is something about
Beaufoy’s screenplay that
makes it rise above the archetypical
underdog story;
it is perhaps Beaufoy’s, and
Boyle’s, views on a globalized
India and the individual
faces that make up the teeming
masses of the Indian
streets. The screenplay renders
the film not only entertaining,
but also thematically
and socially conscious.
Although the cast
of Slumdog Millionaire is
pretty much unknown to
American audiences, they
are lovable and the audience
grows attached to them.
That’s one of the biggest
signs of this film’s universal
appeal, the actors are not
Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie,
they are not well known, but
they still manage to capture
something indescribable in
their performances that keep
audiences at the edge of
their seats.
One of the many
highlights of the film is the
soundtrack, composed by
A.R. Rahman, with help
from M.I.A, best known
for her worldwide hit, Paper
Planes. Like the film,
the soundtrack is bursting
with both Indian and Hip-
Hop energy. The soundtrack
hits the high notes of the
film with tracks like Paper
Planes, O…Saya, and Millionaire,
and the low notes
as well, with tracks like
Latika’s Theme and Dreams
on Fire. The song that plays
during the credits, Jai Ho,
has been reportedly causing
the audience to burst into
Slumdog Millionaire
serves up a panorama of
emotion: it will excite you,
seduce you, shock you, enthrall
you, elate you, startle
you, inspire you, transport
you, make you laugh, and
make you cry. Go catch it
while it’s still in theatres!

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