Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) shares a tender moment with Latika (Freid Pinto) in Slumdog Millionaire.
By CAINE GARDNER
Slumdog Millionaire is an absolute triumph. With its bold colors and powerful story, it is a timeless tale of unflinching devotion and love.
Slumdog is a slick, modern revisioning of an old Hollywood melodrama, made by a director with a relatively unknown cast on a minute budget. It's everything Hollywood could hope to produce; yet it was produced in India by a British director and financed in England. This pictures bridges the cultural divide and delivers an inspiring tale that packs an unbelievably emotional punch.
Slumdog is the little film that could. Made for a moderate $15 million, the flick languished after its initial studio was shut down and looked destined for a straight-to-DVD release. Only after a successful first screening at the Telluride Film Festival and a second strong screening at the Toronto Film Festival did it start to create some buzz.
Seven Oscars and a $310 million worldwide box office later, a phenomenon was created.
Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is an orphan who, after witnessing his mother killed in the slums of Mumbai as a child, finds that his life journey has taken him to a national stage. He stands just one question away from winning 20 million rupees on India's version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," but what is his journey?
As the show ends for the night, Malik is arrested on the suspicion that he has somehow cheated the system. As his story unfolds, we learn about the 18-year-old's past and the heart wrenching moments that have pockmarked his life. After the death of his mother, he has his first encounter with another slum kid Latika (Freida Pinto), a relationship that transcends his life and has helped propel him to this point in his life. Their paths interweave throughout their lives, and it's a tale of love and love lost.
The question remains -- if a poor slum kid isn't on the show for the money, why is he in the hotseat?
The flick is essentially told through a series of flashbacks, showing how Jamal comes by the answers to the questions. Director Danny Boyle is able to present the flashbacks in a way where they feel fresh and don't jar the viewer out of the story. This is by far Boyle's premiere work so far.
Boyle mixes shots and angles, and his use of the natural landscape helps lend weight to the film. He had a vision; he set out and achieved it.
Slumdog picks up steam as the story unfolds, and the final 15 minutes of the film are arguably the most rewarding of any film in the past year.
Although their time together on screen is limited, the chemistry between Patel and Pinto is wonderful. Boyle notes in the commentary that Latika had to be someone who you would go to the ends of the earth to find and Pinto achieves that beautifully. One trick Boyle uses with Pinto is using yellow as a signature color to pull her out of the scene.
Slumdog is punctuated by a rousing dance number as the credits role, something that might sound out of place, but Boyle and his crew pull it off nicely.
Final Cut: Slumdog Millionaire is a rarity. It's a film that combines all the elements of cinema to create a stunning vision. You will love this movie; it is written.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Simon Beaufoy (Screenplay), Vikas Swarup (novel)
MPAA Rating: R for violence, disturbing images and language
In select theaters; available on DVD and Blu-Ray
Single Disk DVD
* Deleted Scenes
* Commentary by Director Danny Boyle and Actor Dev Patel
* Commentary by Producer Christian Colson and Writer Simon Beaufoy
* Slumdog Countdown