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.