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Slumdog Millionaire (2009)

Love and money... You have mixed them both.

Directed by:

Danny Boyle

Loveleen Tandan

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 120 minutes

US Certificate: 15 UK Certificate: R

Country: United Kingdom

Every year, it seems like there’s some movie that comes out of nowhere and starts winning awards, everyone calling it “the little movie that could.” I heard it with Little Miss Sunshine a few years ago, with Juno last year, and now, this year, the little movie seems to be Slumdog Millionaire. With all kinds of accolades already piling up, not the least of which is a Best Picture nod from the Golden Globes, it’s good to know that the added buzz will mean more viewers will get to see the film, which means more people are going to walk out of theaters happy.

Happy wouldn’t be your first thought, however, judging from the first several minutes of the movie. Eighteen-year-old Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is being tortured—seems everyone thinks he cheated in the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Through a series of flashbacks and memories, it becomes clear that his life as an “uneducated slumdog” living on the streets with only his brother Salim and friend Latika has given him the answers. And as he prepares to defend his honor—and go for the grand prize—the entire country waits in anticipation.

The weird thing about this film is that even though it’s harsh at times, there’s an underlying sense of joy. Credit goes to Danny Boyle—the man has range (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine)—and he handles this movie deftly, never exploiting India’s poverty or glossing over it, instead crafting a narrative that is simply about life. It also must be said that while Patel and his “current age” counterparts excel, the children portraying Young Jamal and Young Salim, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, are the movie’s heart. There’s a lot that happens in this film, but with all the game show action and the running from criminals going on, Slumdog Millionaire is a simple, beautiful love story. Jamal loves Latika, and years nor crooks can keep him from her. Without being sappy, it’s a universal tale that could’ve been set any time, anywhere—but there’s definitely something about THIS time and place that add to the magic.

So, if you’re lucky enough to get this movie at a theater near you, run and see it before it disappears—it’ll make you want to dance.

It's Got: Spectacular younger actors, an uplifting story, and simple, unabashed love.

It Needs: More people to see it.

Alternatives:

Moulin Rouge!, Salaam Bombay!, The Kite Runner

Summary

Haunting and happy all wrapped into one, this love story deserves all the praise it’s getting and more.

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