Friday, January 30, 2009
REVIEW: Slumdog Millionaire
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Madhur Mittal
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
MPAA: Rated R
Slumdog Millionaire is a film that I have been wanting to see for awhile, but was just too scared to bring myself to go out and see it. I mean alot of people have been talking about it and saying how great it was, but I was alittle frightened that I might now like it as others did. I mean the trailer for the film looked alright, but nothing special. After so many awards and nominations, I finally decided to take a chance and see for myself what the big fuzz was about.
Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (Freida Pinto), the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show's questions.
The film is an adaptation of the Boeke Prize winning novel Q and A by Indian author Vikas Swarup. Having not read that novel, I cant tell you if it comes close to the movie or not. The story is fresh and exhilarating. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this film, but all that changed within watching the first 20 minutes of the film. I was literally sucked in and couldn't stop watching. Director Danny Boyle has crafted an intense atmosphere that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. The film reminded me of the 2002 Fernando Meirelles crime thriller "City of God". Even though their both different films and display different messages, they are also somewhat similar looking. Though not as depressing and powerful as City of God, Slumdog Millionaire comes pretty damn close. The film starts off with a kid born in the slums and than it soon pits him on the show answering questions. The film tells the story in a flashback sense and this works effectively. Editing is top notch here and director Danny Boyle easily knows what hes doing with this material. What worked so brilliantly in Slumdog Millionaire was the fact that it told a story that not only worked on many levels, but is also highly entertaining. I mean everything about it is nearly perfect. From the beautiful cinematography to the enchanting music, the film simply has it all. I haven't seen a film this extraordinary in a long time. Trust me when I say this, Slumdog Millionaire is definitely a must see.
Dev Patel plays as the kid from the slums, Jamal Malik. He gives a great performance as Jamal and truly had me believed he was a real character. Ill be honest and admit that I have never seen this guy before this movie, but his work here is truly something to be remembered for. I think this was a great pick by the casting director and I give props to him for making the right decision in casting Patel as Jamal. Freida Pinto plays as the love interest in the movie, Latika. She too gives a great performance and is something she will be remembered for. Shes simply beautiful in the movie and displays that sad-ness that Latika always seems to show. I enjoyed her in this movie and hope to see her in more films as good as this. Anil Kapoor plays as the host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Prem Kumar. He is also great in his role and I liked him playing this kind of bad guy part. He may not look like a host that we might have in today's world, but I think he played the part pretty damn good. Irrfan Khan plays as the Police Inspector in the movie. His role seems nicely suited for him and he does a good job at it, but I wish he had more screen time. The only time we see him is when hes asking questions to Jamal, but that's it.
The visual look of Slumdog Millionaire is also a winner. I complained on my recent review of The Wrestler that the visual look of the film wasn't great and looked alittle outdated compared to other new releases. That isn't the case with Slumdog Millionaire. From start to finish, the film looks great. It also helps that the film has some of the best cinematography I have seen since 2007's There Will Be Blood. Some of these shots are outright amazing and really Oscar worthy in my opinion. Theirs alittle bit of grain here and their, but nothing that's gong to distract you. Colors look wonderful and somewhat vibrant. Theirs alot of locations in the film and these all look very good. Black levels look alittle flat, but is still pretty strong compared to some of the new releases. Flesh tones look quite natural and have that warm feeling to them. Detail is pretty great and shows alot of clarity to the image. Some of the close up shots look very nice and detailed. The environments show alot of pop and this is definitely a title I'm curious to see on Blu Ray high def.
The soundtrack in Slumdog Millionaire is simply fantastic. As much as the visual look of the film is great, its soundtrack is a notch up. The original music is by A.R. Rahman and I think he did an absolute amazing job on this film. Even if your not into Indian music, Its still something that's going to catch you by surprise. Every music and orchestral work here is just glorious and really fun to listen to. Not only that, but the music also engages you to stay on your feet and pay attention to the film. I also enjoyed the song sung by the cast at the end credits and I'm not even Indian. I can sit here all day long raving about how great the music is. Not only that, but Slumdog Millionaire also features some great bass usage. Dynamics are loud and nicely spread out the way I like them to be. Its not all front heavy, but rather all around. Even though the film doesn't have alot going on in each scene, theirs still enough rumble to satisfy you.
Slumdog Millionaire is easily the best film of 2008 in my opinion. The film not only has a strong story that's full of surprises, but its also very entertaining. I haven't seen a film this captivating and engaging in a long time. Not only does Slumdog Millionaire live up to the hype, but its easily the best film to come out in a long time. Director Danny Boyle has crafted one masterpiece of a film. The cast is great and all of them give out good performances that makes the film much more real. The visual look of the film is great and features some good looking colors. The soundtrack is simply awesome and managed to keep me tuned in through out the whole film. I can go on and on about Slumdog Millionaire and how amazing it is. I now understand why Slumdog Millionaire gets all these awards and critical praise. This is a must see for anyone who loves movies.