Sunday, November 23, 2008
I wrapped my final day on Eleventh Hour at a glorious 10:30am and decided to treat myself to a movie. After all, I had worked that day; I just had the entire day left to slack off, guilt free. So I wandered in to an early showing of Danny Boyle's new film, Slumdog Millionaire. And walked out charged with energy.
It's not often a film moves me. I think most movies these days are either effects heavy shells of a story, or course, teenage boy humor. Slumdog is one of the most hauntingly beautiful films I've ever seen. It's centered around a boy, Jamal, who gets onto the Hindi version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and, remarkably, seems to know every question he's asked. More remarkable, is that Jamal is not any boy, but a humble, uneducated street kid, a so-called slumdog. Instantly, he is accused of cheating.
The film is told in fashback. We bounce back from the quiz show to Jamal's early childhood and discover how specific events shaped him and his knowledge. It's a simple device, but it works. I was drawn in instantly by the sheer honesty of the performances from a cast of young kids who are too young to have much, if any, acting experience. I am reminded of why I do what I do, when I see films like this. I'm also ashamed when I watch a 5 year old kid deliver a performace that is better than anything I could put out.
Slumdog is more than a poor-kid-makes-good tale. It's an extraordinary story of enduring love and the rights of passage. How the smallest choices affect our lives. It's an unflinching portrayal of extreme poverty and at the same time disarmingly funny. Beautifully shot, with a thumping soundtrack and characters you can't take your eyes off. So what if I was being played at times - I was happy to go along for the ride. And you will be too.
Go see it.