Monday, December 22, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Danny Boyle's new film is quite possibly a masterpiece, certainly his best work so far and among my favorites from this year. Boyle hasn't made something this good since Trainspotting. And, remember, two of this guy's latest films are 28 Days Later and Sunshine, both science fiction. So tracking his career choices from Trainspotting to Slumdog is a near-impossible task. My only guess is that Boyle loved the story (about an Indian boy, or boy from India, who grows up in slums and eventually ends up on the Indian equivalent to Who Wants To Be a Millionaire) so he chose this project. No doubt it's a gripping one, but Boyle here proves that he knows HOW to tell a story. Strangely enough, he utilizes techniques in Slumdog that resemble things he did for 28 Days Later, only in Slumdog the techniques are a bit warmer. One thing that struck me in this movie was that, although it's a film based in India, it's not a Bollywood film. With the exception of the closing credits (stick around for the credits) there are few Bollywood elements. This is largely Hollywood storytelling, non linear but narratively focused. Also, as much as this movie is about destiny and love, it's also about India. The director, born in Manchester, seems to have real compassion for the people of India. And Slumdog's India is about as realistic as a fictional work is gonna get. Scenes filmed in slums show young boys sleeping on trash and people relieving themselves on the side of the road. Boyle paints a wounded but beautiful nation, a perfect setting for the unlikely story. A boy rises from the slums and realizes his destiny, not because he deserves it any more than any of the other children living, homeless, in the streets. He receives this opportunity because "it is written." Slumdog is a film to be studied, but more so it's a film to be experienced. There is no denying it. This movie rocks.

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