Sunday, September 14, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

So, I was going to wait until tomorrow to start writing/posting my comments about the films I went to this year, but since Slumdog Millionaire won the People's Choice award and I LOVED this film, I thought I'd make a few quick comments tonight. (Actually, I guess it's technically tomorrow, already.)


First a disclosure. The director, Danny Boyle, can do little wrong in my books. Shallow Grave is one of my all time favourite films (and not just because it was my first introduction to Ewan McGregor. Okay, that actually might have been a big part of it.) But if you've never seen Shallow Grave, you should rent it (as long as you're prepared for something quite dark. Come on. It is called Shallow Grave).

Then Danny Boyle did Trainspotting, cast Ewan again, and both he and Ewan got famous. Since then I haven't love-love-loved any of his films quite that much, but I have enjoyed them all, even Millions, which didn't do well at the box office. (Mostly, IMO, because it's like a sweet kid's film for the first 3/4 and then like a violent action film for the last 1/4.) That said, Millions is another good rental.

Many people didn't like his adaptation of The Beach, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tilda Swinton, but I was one who did. And I had read the book. I also greatly admired Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, which is so not my kind of movie, but I went because Danny Boyle was the director. (and got my first intro to Cillian Murphy, another favourite actor, now.)

So, back to Slumdog Millionaire. I don't want to ruin anything, but it has a very clever plot device that I sure wish I'd thought of. The film's about a young man who grew up in the slums of Mumbai who wins the big prize in the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It's based on a book called Q&A, if I remember correctly. The screenwriter was at the premiere and he said that the book was pretty much a series of disconnected but vivid stories and he had to devise a through line for the film so he created.... a romance. And it was a sweet one. I think this screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, should be a new hero for me. He also wrote The Full Monty and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, among others.

Slumdog Millionaire will do really well I expect. The films that win the People's Choice award at the TIFF almost always do well, (past winners include: Whale Rider, Fahrenheit 911, American Beauty, The Big Chill, Hotel Rwanda, Life is Beautiful, etc. etc.) and I think this one has some great ingredients. A main character who's really fabulous and heroic, lots of action, lots of interesting detail about slum life and gangsters in Mumbai, and, like I said before, a fabulous plot device/structure I'd have killed to have thought of myself. I'm breaking down. I don't think this spoils it. The structure is basically the TV quiz show we all know. For each question we get a flashback to the kid's life to see why/how he knows the answer. It's slightly more complicated than that, but I thought it was a genius structure for showing someone's life story. Vignettes to show how he knows certain details but also show so much more and contribute to an overall plot -- actually to more than one plot. We have the "how did the kid get to the point where he's on the show" plot, the romance plot and the "will he go all the way and get to keep the money he wins on the show" plot. Brilliant storytelling the more I think of it.

No idea when this film will be released. The only release info listed on imdb.com is January 2009 in France. Keep your eyes open for this one. I'm sure it'll be coming to theatres soon.

4 comments:

Wylie Kinson said...

Sounds like a winner (and gee, it was). I enjoy Danny Boyle, and god bless him for introducing me (too) to Cillian Murphy. Did you see the one in which he plays a drag queen? I can't remember the name at the moment, but he's absolutely, convincing brilliant.

Maureen McGowan said...

Breakfast on Pluto is the film you're thinking of, Wylie. Coincidentally, I saw that at the TIFF, too. 3 years ago, I think? It was the same fall that Red Eye or whatever that film was called was in theaters where Cillian Murphy was the bad guy. Blew my mind to see him in two such different roles like that so close together.

Annette said...

This is a great time of year because all the good movies seem to come out.

So, do you have movie burnout? I love watching movies but I don't think I could do so many in such a short time.

Wylie Kinson said...

Okay - it came to me as I was driving my kid home from martial arts - Breakfast on Pluto!! I rushed online to tell you and you've beat me to it. Grrr... all that brain-ticking for nothing.

And neat-o that you saw the two together.
I saw BoP and 28 Days Later within a few days of each other, so I ditto your reaction. He's very versatile, our Cillian.

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