From now until Oscar Sunday I will be reviewing Best Picture winners. Enjoy!
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto, Rubina Ali, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor
Academy Awards (2009):
Best Motion Picture of the Year: Christian Colson
Best Achievement in Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Best Achievement in Directing: Danny Boyle
Best Achievement in Editing: Chris Dickens
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: A.R. Rahman
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: A.R. Rahman (music), Gulzar (lyrics) for the song ‘Jai Ho’
Best Achievement in Sound: Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Simon Beaufoy
Academy Award Nominations:
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: A.R. Rahman, Maya Arulpragasam for the song ‘O Saya’
Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Tom Sayers, Glenn Freemantle
Jamal Malik (Patel), an 18-year-old orphan from the streets of Mumbai, finds himself competing on the TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. His unexpected success leads police to become suspicious and he is arrested for cheating. During his police interview Malik recounts the story of his life, explaining how he came to know the answer to each question in the quiz. (from 501 Must-See Movies, Revised and Updated Edition)
Slumdog Millionaire has a lot that works. For having virtual unknowns, at least to American audiences, the acting is decent. The story, cliché at times, is complex enough and the Indian setting make it unique and enjoyable.
The visuals in this movie are great. The integration of color throughout the film works well. From what little knowledge I have of the Indian film industry, it seems like bright colors are intricately used. The balance of colors created a number of aesthetically pleasing sets.
Even though it still grosses me out thinking about it, the toilet scene was well done. Sometimes I feel like the dream-esque parts were a little drawn out, like how Jamal has the same flashback of Latika (Pinto) at the train station the first time they tried to be together.
The pacing is slow at times, however, I feel like the payoff in the end makes the build up worth it. In the end, you kind of have to figure he’d get the girl. However, there’s that underlying tension throughout as Jamal and Latika cross paths and could be together except for this or that circumstance.
There were quite a few times where I thought, “Hmm, that’s convenient” as far as Jamal knowing the answer to a question. To have that random assortment of life experiences, apparently happening in the order the questions were given, just seems a little too far-fetched. The cops were right to be suspicious, though some of the torture they put Jamal through was probably unnecessary.
The biggest issue I have with this film has to do with the hype. Personally, I think it’s an interesting, drawn out love story set in the slums of Mumbai. I don’t think it’s as great as people made it out to be when it was released. The first time I watched this, I was just kind of like “eh” at the end. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I feel like this film is one of those that gets a Best Picture Oscar because the Academy basically says, “Awww, let’s feel sorry for/about (fill in the blank).” That year it won against The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, and Milk, all films I think would be deserving of the Oscar, but that’s just my own opinion.
This is the only Danny Boyle film I’ve seen, so I can’t compare this to any of his other work.
Is the film good? Yes.
Is it amazing beyond your wildest dreams and there will never be another like it? No.
Slumdog Millionaire came out of nowhere in 2008 to win 8 Oscars and gained almost instant international acclaim. I think it’s a decent film, though personally I don’t understand the hype that came with it. I think it should be seen once, though time will tell whether this film has long-lasting staying power.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars.