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SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 2008
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SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
Movie Review
Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Tanay Chheda, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Anil Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

The story of how impoverished Indian teen Jamal Malik became a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire?" -- an endeavor made without prize money in mind, rather, an effort to prove his love for his friend Latika, who is an ardent fan of the show.

REVIEW:

I am fascinated by Slumdog Millionaire. I walked into the theater knowing absolutely nothing about this film at all and I was shockingly surprised. In fact, writing from the emotions after watching this film, I consider it the best film of 2008 as of early December with a slate of Oscar contenders to come.

What blows me away about this film is that it works on every single level of emotions while being an extremely difficult movie to make. I thought director Danny Boyle did a tremendous job taking the novel Trainspotting and turning into a terrific film in 1996, while still keeping its themes intact. This is extremely hard to pull off and usually a director can do it once in their lifetime of body of work. You're taking words and thoughts on paper and putting them into a medium of moving images. Most novel adaptations to movies need to change its theme because it just doesn't translate on film. But Danny Boyle tells you that you can do it, but it just takes a lot of talent and perhaps a lot of luck.

There are three main characters in Slumdog Millionaire and we learn who these people are in 3 stages of their early life. So Boyle and the producers decided to cast 3 different actors for each stage. And these are child actors! It's a gutsy move to do because if one of those 9 actors doesn't perform well, the film is ruined. I can't imagine a Hollywood studio ever green-lighting a decision like this in a million years.

Then you are telling a really awful story of how these kids grow up and survive by themselves in India. They are Slumdogs and this is a life that people in the Western world can't even imagine living. It's hell and it's really sad to see. But Boyle keeps things fresh in these scenes and finds the balance of capturing how these kids are heroes for what they go through more than victims of the experience. And that's a hard balance to pull off.

In film it's really easy to evoke an emotion from the audience. You show a shot of a dog, then a shot of a car and then back to the car driving over the dog. People will be hurt and shocked. And it's a manipulative thing to do to an audience because it's so easy to do.

Boyle makes us feel in the most difficult ways and doesn't resort to easy tactics. If you're a filmmaker and storyteller, Slumdog Millionaire is the movie to see because it teaches you so much about what to do and what not to do.

Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of hope and destiny about characters who really have had zero hope and/or any sort of life prospects in their entire life.

It's storyline begins on the Who Wants to be a Millionaire TV show as our hero, Jamal, is a contestant on the show. This is a show most of us are familiar with. Jamal is a kid who shouldn't be answering these questions correctly because he is a Slumdog. So we enter the film of him being tortured by the police to find out how he got the answers. Jamal just knew them, bottom line, and he finally convinces the authorities how he does.

As Jamal explains how he knew each answer, we go back to his past to see the moments in his life where he got the answers to the questions. This is when we witness the horrors of his life and the experiences with his older brother Salam and the 'third muskateer', Lakita.

Lakita is what keeps Jamal alive. This is another love concurs all story. Jamal goes on the game show to try to find Lakita again. Winning some money isn't even on his mind.

So we have a story with universal themes and emotions, that's filmed and executed almost perfectly. Slumdog Millionaire reminded me of The Shawshank Redemption because it's major theme of 'hope' is present. And Shawshank is considered by many as the great film of all-time because it's themes will stay with us then, now and 200 years from now.

Slumdog Millionaire is one of those rare films that will stand the test of time for years to come. It's a foreign film with a tiny marketing budget that I guarantee will find a giant audience in 2009 and beyond in the DVD and home-video market because of its universal themes and the present life struggles and problems of the world.

This is just a tremendous film and is a great example of why movies are suppose to be made. A must see for every single human being in the world for as long as human beings are on this earth. This film won Best Director and Best Cinematography, and was nominated for five other categories. The screenwriter was nominated, and rightly so. Taken from a short story that first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933 by Maurice Walsh, Green Rushes, Frank Nugent was able to weave a story rich in subtext and conflict.

The collector’s edition of the DVD includes an interview with Maureen O’Hara where she reminisces about filming The Quiet Man, and is well worth watching.

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