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Starring: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Rajendranath Zutshi

Director: Danny Boyle

Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Vikas Swarup (novel)

Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle

Original Score: A. R. Rahman

Running Time: 120 Mins.

The feelgood film of the decade…or so the poster’s say, well if that were a truth we sure have one hell of a depressing year in cinema ahead! There is no doubt you will LEAVE the film with a smile but for 110 minutes prior to this director Danny Boyle really puts us through the emotional ringer, in the best possible way, for mis-selling the film is the only error made here. Never one to pigeon-hole himself to one genre Boyle has crafted a masterful filmic experience in suspense and emotion, both good and bad.

Slumdog Millionaire has much in common with Boyle’s own past foray into the effect of money of peoples lives in Millions. Millions was largely over looked by audiences, and failed to make much money or garner any awards buzz, unlike Slumdog which has already won Golden Globe plaudits and could quite possibly walk away with this years Best Picture Oscar. Not entirely undeserved achievements I did find Slumdog to be over-rated in the same way that Millions was under-rated.

Slumdog is essentially a series of short vignettes broken up by the questions posed to our hero (Dev Patel) on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.  Boyles storytelling mastery however escapes this potentially episodic style and forms a brilliantly paced race through Jamal’s life. Whilst encountering situations which enable him to make his way to the Indian equivalent of the million pound prize, but there is much more than a to this Slumdog than a gameshow, the issues of poverty, racism, and more pertinantly, child exploitation with a dash of the gangster underworld are explored, far from what you will go in expecting. 

Of all that is good about Slumdog though, it is the breathless pacing that makes it head and shoulders above many other films, though I can safely say I would struggle to compare it to any other film. Which really does work in its favour, originality is a very rare beast in Hollywood, or even Bollywood, which this has clear links too, not least because of the setting!

Much has been made of Slumdog not only being wrongly pushed as a feel-good film but also the romantic aspect, with banners on buses showing a picture that could almost have been taken from Four Weddings & A Funeral. Now, it would be wrong to say that Slumdog is not romantic but it’s certainly not a romantic film in the usual sense of the word. Again taking an original tack, Boyle has our romantic protaganists apart for the majority of the films running time building tension with a will-they/wont-they style plot.

The performances throughout are nothing less than good, with Patel given little room to show anything other than awe until the final third where he really lets loose and has some fun, the other standout is the Indian version of Chris Tarrant, all smiles and cock-sure style but with an almost weasly inner self, with one scene in the bathroom between him and Patel that really gets you thinking abouyt his true motives.

VERDICT

Slumdog Millionaire is far and away a major achievement for Boyle, his visual style is up there with the best, and the drama and thrills he wreenches from a potentially dull story is literally edge-of-your seat stuff! So while its not a feel-good film as such it’s certainly a great one, and like nothing you have or will ever have seen in the cinema, an exhilerating and original experience is more appropriate a slogan!

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