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Monday, January 05, 2009

Three Words: Go See It


I'm too twisted with disappointment to *ever* believe the hype over ANY movie. After all, my hopes have been dashed too many times. I grew up in the 80s, a time when the Hollywood propaganda machine really kicked off, with merchandise, trailers and ad campaigns assualting my eyes and ears - the 90s provided yet more to the mix: the tie-in novel, CD Rom, website and video game! Argh. Then there was the advent of CGI and story was pushed backwards EVEN MORE. What happened to a simple, good yarn???

But I'm also a sucker for free tickets, so when I was offered two for Slumdog Millionaire on a free showing yesterday, I wasn't going to say no. I was ambivalent in my expectations: as far as Danny Boyle's work goes, I never liked Trainspotting (though it looked good); I liked 28 Days Later; Millions was nice enough; hated Sunshine. In terms of Simon Beaufoy's work, all I knew of it was The Full Monty - okay, but rather cheesy. The poster called Slumdog Millionaire "The feel good movie of the decade". It was going to be one of those rags to riches stories I figured - a bit like Millions, no doubt.

I was wrong. Slumdog Millionaire is the best movie I have seen in years. Why? I'm very hard to please when it comes to movies, but contrary to popular belief, I can be pleased. If a film has interesting characters, has good narrative logic, has satisfying structure and something to say for itself, then fine. I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose on 5 last week as its "Nightmare Christmas" season and found this courtroom drama to have excellent performances as well as a pleasing examination of faith, without coming down on either side categorically. Nice.

But in contrast to The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Slumdog Millionaire made me forget my screenwriting/script editing roots. I was completely lost in the story. I have enjoyed films, sure, but normally I will be picking things out in my head as being worthy of praise for example, like when I watched Sideways and heard Miles' impressive speech about Pinot: "That's good subtext" I found myself thinking. This is not the case with Slumdog Millionaire. An excellent, lean efficient script, combined with fantastically dramatic direction, a well-chosen soundtrack and some powerhouse performances (particularly by the child actors) makes this my choice film of the decade. That's right: of the decade. I have not liked a film this much in years. I made me forget everything else: I have not been completely, 100% absorbed, in nearly ten years.In fact, the only quibble I had was the "feel good" tag. WTF? It's pretty harrowing.

But don't take my word for it. Go see it.


Elinor said...

The love story sucked though, don't you think? And the Bollywood dance sequence at the end??! Best part was with the child actors, I definitely agree.

Lucy V said...

No way you heartless fiend! Though I am married to my own sweetheart, so may be biased. But when it comes to destiny/love - yes it is mega cheesy and makes those who found their own lurve as adults puke, but it is also true. Every couple I've ever known who've known each other since childhood/teenage years supports the whole "destiny" idea. (NOTE: not necessarily gone out all that time: some of the worst couples have been together 20 years by the age of 36!!)

As for the Bollywood bit over the credits, I wasn't struck - but then I was already walking out due to the car ticket running out! But if it hadn't done this, it probably would have been accused of taking itself too seriously, wouldn't it?

Elinor said...

Hmm, just a tad too feelgood for me, I think. I had no problem with the childhood sweethearts angle, what really rankled with me was the passivity of the female character played by Freida Pinto. To be fair, in the production notes Danny Boyle acknowledged she was passive as a reflection of how all the decisions are made by men in that society. I just wanted her to be less of a victim.

Ooh, wv: emotiona

Lucy V said...

I don't normally like passive females as you know, but I think a tale such as this has to be truthful and a girl like Latika would have been a victim, I was suprised by how little of a victim she was. She accepts her fate with grace - what else can she do?Latika's plaintive "So what?" when Jamal says he loves her is heart breaking.

As Danny Boyle says, men have such power over women in that society, sure, and also children - and I think it makes its point well on this, especially through the evil Marman.

For me, however Salim was the scene stealer regardless of being a child, a juvenile or an adult - proof what a brilliant part that was.

Caroline said...

I went to see Slumdog Millionaire last night and was completely blown away by it. I was utterly gripped all the way through and definitely don't see it as a 'feelgood' movie. Danny Boyle has said he's uncomfortable with that tag as part of the marketing and I can see why - there's nothing feelgood about the way that life in the slums is portrayed and there's no sense that Jamal's luck/destiny changes anything for all the other kids still living in those conditions. I sort of agree with Elinor about the passivity of Latika (something I also dislike in films) but it did seem credible in that world. The love story worked fine for me as a way of saying that Jamal is motivated by love rather than money. I don't believe in destiny at all but again it felt fine within the film. Oh, and I loved the Bollywood dance at the end :)