Jamal: [agitated] There was no message, there was no message, there was no message!
Salim: Shut up! The man with the Colt 45 says shut up!
At a glance:
Director Danny Boyle continues his uniquely successful genre-hopping career, choosing to film a confronting, stylish, visually sumptuous Bollywood lookalike about a boy raised in the slums of Bombay, his life struggles, and his undieing love for his childhood girlfriend
Two brothers (Jamal and Salim), born in the slums of Bombay, are forced to live day to day when their mother is killed during a religious conflict. They endure hardship, poverty, and ‘adoption’ by a man who feeds, clothes, and houses them as long as they beg and prostitute themselves in exchange for this service. The two brothers escape and fend for themselves. Salim (Madhur Mittal) turns to a life of crime, while Jamal (Dev Patel) works in a call centre. His never-ending love for childhood friend Latika (Freida Pinto) leads him to apply to be on the television show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, where he knows she will see him. This all-Indian cast Bollywood type film is director Danny Boyle’s latest attempt at a new genre. He nails it in a big way, with an ambitious, stylized, intense and sometimes brutal opening third that leads us into the boy’s lives and through the back alleys of Bombay before the business boom transformed it into Mumbai. There is amazing cinematography and locations, especially early on in the film, when the boys are fleeing various perils. Later, we get the juxtaposition of the game show with the life of someone who is trying to raise himself out of the ghetto.
There is also excellent supporting work from veteran Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, who plays the game show host as a slimy yet gray area character.
The questions in the game show form dot points to the story – that’s just one of the original touches. The film itself is brimming with energy, flooding us with images (some of them quite ugly). It’s a complete triumph and will be in the running at the Oscars; for me, the only negatives are the ugliness of the story and the lack of knockdown emotional impact – but those are personal preferences, and they are less important than the magnitude and originality of the film.
Other reviewers said:
"With its fine performances and impressive, if deliberately melodramatic direction, it’s a crowd-pleaser which manages to be both distressing and, strangely enough, immensely entertaining."
-David Stratton (At the Movies [Australia])
"Slumdog Millionaire, a film so upbeat and colorful that, by the time you’re relaying its infectious air of optimism to friends, you could forget that it features orphans, slaughter, organized crime, poverty, enslavement and police brutality."
-Dave Calhoun (Time Out)