Running Time: 120 Minutes
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Written By: Simon Beaufoy, from the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup
Main Cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Madhur Mittal, Irrfan Khan
Click here to view the trailer
FROM RAGS TO RICHES?
I spent a good ten minutes lying here, trying to think up a good subtitle and dozing off in the process. Now, my mouth hangs agape, my eyes glossy and I'm dead tired. The overtime that I put in, in order to get through the Black Friday chaos may have helped to fatten my paycheck, but it did absolutely nothing for my eyelids. Long story short, I'm still trying to recover, catch up on sleep - whatever needs to be done to regain some energy.
I wrote about Slumdog Millionaire five years ago, during a monthly recap post and proclaimed the fact that this played second fiddle to The Curious Case of Bejamin Button to be "yet another laughable moment in the history of the acclaimed Academy (Awards)". I'm pleased to announce that my opinion of the film, overall, has sweetened - yet, I still stand by that statement.
The main character of the 2008 Best Picture winner is Jamal Malik, whom we see at different stages in his life. However, in present day, he is a grown man (Patel) competing as a contestant on the game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. When we first encounter Jamal, he is being tortured by police officers for suspicion of cheating at the game - for a poor boy from the slums of Mumbai certainly couldn't genuinely carry the knowledge to answer such tough questions. As he is interrogated by police officials, we learn via flashback the story of Jamal Malik, as he explains how he knew the answer to each question, taking us through his life, generation by generation. The film ever so slowly transforms from being about a guy cheating at a game show to being about a boy in love, as we become aware of Jamal's life long love interest, Latika (played by Pinto when the character is an adult) - the very reason he went on the show to begin with.
I find that the longer I take to write a plot synopsis, the stronger I feel about a particular film. If I feel the need to cram in, even insignificant details, then I must think a lot of the production and not wish to mar it by accidentally omitting crucial facts. If I care little about the plot, characters & developments, then I'm more likely to just give you the highlights and get on with it. Which is the case as it pertains to Slumdog Millionaire - a film that, even after a second viewing, I simply can't get 100% behind. I think the big reason is that the film really has two movies going on at once: one about a "slumdog" possibly cheating to win Who Wants to Be a Milloniare and a second story about the romance that escalates between Jamal & Latika and the turmoil that mounts between Jamal & his brother, Salim (Mittal). When we start to receive the flashbacks, it's for the sole purpose of Jamal proving his innocence. Therefore, if you look at it from a storyline standpoint, there's no reason for us to ever get the romance story that existed between Jamal & Latika. Also, isnt' the whole thing a bit TOO contrived? Am I really to believe that every question that Jamal was asked he has a story about? When I watch game shows like that, usually I JUST know the answer - I don't reminisce like an old man remembering when he could get a Snickers for a quarter.
However, I feel like I talk about contrivances way too much. Movies are meant to bend the rules and stories don't always have to make 100%, flawless sense. Sometimes, as long as it's all feasible, it's enough to go on. This was a decent story and a clever one, to boot. When my wife asked me the other day, "what's it about" and I told her, I remember thinking to asking myself why I hadn't liked this one before, because it just SOUNDS like such a good idea: "A guy is accused of cheating on a game show, so via flashback, he tells how he knew each answer". Hell, just reciting it again makes me want to re-add it to my Netflix queue, get it back and watch it again to make sure I didn't miss something.
In closing, I think most will really like Slumdog Millionaire and for that reason alone, I can't not recommend it. However, if you find yourself agreeing with my reviews A LOT, then it may be that you and I have very similar tastes and therefore, Slumdog may not be up your alley. I think this was always going to be a tough novel to adapt, as it's really a couple of stories rolled into one giant, complex piece. I think a more down to Earth director could have handled the story a little better, as the talents of Danny Boyle should be saved for the more eclectic & electric films, ones that his style can really add to. As it is, I think Slumdog Millionaire had enough of an edge on it's own, without having Danny Boyle aboard to jazz it up even more with things like his signature editing style. I'm really mixed on this one, because on one hand it's a brilliant idea, yet as I watched it, if failed to really grasp me and make me care like I know I should have been caring. But hey, at least it's not the worst Best Picture of the last ten years (see Birdman and/or Argo).
RATING: 6.5/10 For a Best Picture winner, that's pretty low, but I've seen lower winners of the prestigious prize. That's two viewing for this, so I think I can safely file this one in the mediocre bin.
November 29, 2015 6:10pm