Slumdog Millionaire

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Who doesn’t in this economy, even if the currency in question is rupees and winning means being pegged as a fraud and getting a firsthand education in interrogation methods? Such is the fate that greets Jamal, the 18-year-old Mumbai street urchin turned game-show contestant at the center of Danny Boyle’s ebullient Bollywood-meets-Hollywood concoction. Slumdog Millionaire opens with Jamal (newcomer Dev Patel), accused of cheating during his appearance on the local version of Millionaire. Given the third degree by a tough but ultimately decent police inspector (the excellent Irfan Khan) who demands to know how this lowly tea boy could possibly know enough to advance to the show’s 20-million-rupee final round, Jamal flashes back to the key events of a life that contains all the answers. Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) think in terms of a minor-scale Dickensian epic about the pull of time on the relationships with Jamal; his artful-dodger brother, Salim; and the beautiful, unattainable Latika (Freida Pinto). Slumdog Millionaire whips these familiar raw ingredients into a feverish masala that drenches the screen in the sights and sounds of modern Mumbai. Throughout, the dystopian Boyle resists the natural tug of Slumdog Millionaire toward happily-ever-after territory, yet it’s that very tension between gritty, street-level reality and escapist fantasy that ultimately makes Slumdog Millionaire feel buoyant and life-affirming.

Categories: Movies