Monday, August 6, 2012
Review: Slumdog Millionaire
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan
Length: 120 min.
IMDB Summary: A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.
This is a stellar movie, but not for the reasons one might expect. The acting is fair, with more seasoned actors Kapoor and Khan stealing the show from the leads. The screenplay sounds stilted at times. The plot is a bit flashy and hard to focus. What makes Slumdog a stellar movie is the portrayal of the Mumbai slums and the tenacity of the human spirit. This movie doesn't treat the slum dwellers as helpless victims--instead, it portrays the people of Juhu as full of energy and life, even as they struggle to survive. This movie also brings to light real-life tragedies such as child prostitution and the maiming of children to increase their value as beggars. Granted, it's unlikely that two children as traumatized as Jamal and Latika would end up looking like supermodels at VT station. Also, the movie took some liberties with the gangster-themed second half of the film, where Jamal's brother has become a powerful figure in the underworld. However, these considerations aside, this movie explodes with life and energy, beautifully portraying the triumph of love and the human spirit over great suffering and great evil.
The R rating is mostly due to the scene where a man chloroforms a child and then pours hot oil onto his eyes to blind him, so he can bring in money as a beggar. Beyond that, there's shootings, a riot in the slums, people on fire and a knife scraping a woman's cheek. There is also a scene in a brothel, but the sex is only implied. A man and woman are shown laying together, but they are motionless. There is some language, including a few f-bombs.
Image from imdb.com