Slumdog Millionaire (2008) (R)

Danny Boyle added his named, tacked on near the end, to a long list of great current directors when he made his drug-documentray/trip "Trainspotting". What other movie has a character failing into a filthy toilet and swimming through an ocean apparently in the toilet just to find some drugs? Not very many I feel safe to assume.
The next film of his to really attract the public eye was the zombie flick "28 Days Later..."; but while he was on this list of great current directors, it is safe to say that he was near the bottom. You have so many other directors who are making truly original movies that are more popular and arguably better at a faster pace—David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, the Coen Brothers, Tom Hooper, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, and Joe Wright.
But when "Slumdog Millionaire" was released in 2008, a new spark was ignited in Boyle's career that quickly rocketed him to the top of the list as one of the directors whose following works would be highly anticipated.
This movie is set in India at a television studio where a young man, Jamal, is competing on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" The movie begins when he is a few questions away from winning the top question and gathering the whole pot of gold. But how did he get to be so smart? Lawyers and doctors have to drop out long before the round where Jamal is playing.
The people of the show cry fraud and phony and Jamal is dragged to a police station where he is tortured until he tells the men how he cheated.
But that's the thing—he didn't cheat.
How then did a poor boy with no real education end up so close to winning everything?
It could just be destiny.
Each question is played again and Jamal explains to the men how freak accidents and random occurrences that happened led him to learn the answer to each question. Yet the movie becomes less and less about the game show and more and more about the boy playing it.
Jamal is a drastically original and human hero; he's determined and flawed and Dev Patel gives a great performance portraying this character.
"Slumdog" is set apart from other movies because of its lack of sentiment. It doesn't stop and let the landscape seep into you, it just plows along and that is was makes it so powerful. India is a run down place, but instead of playing that note again and again, you can see the small beauties of the land as the characters see them.
Time jumps around and it takes a while for chronological events to line up in the viewer's mind, but it's not too hard to follow. It makes you think to engage you and then it delivers its power.
"Slumdog Millionaire" is a grand piece of film. It's dark but not horrifying and sweet but not sugary. It's the perfect blend of all the right emotions that leads to a final scene that plucks all the right notes.
Yes the idea is a little far-fetched, but that's what makes it so endearing; because by the time the movie is over you are convinced of the premise.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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