Saturday, 17 January 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

After a series of films out over Christmas that I've not exactly been that bothered about seeing, a whole batch of movies are currently out that seem to be worth viewing. Yesterday, I got around to watching the much-hyped Danny Boyle offering Slumdog Millionaire.

I'm always slightly cautious when a film is massively hyped, but Slumdog lived up to its popular billing. The acting is brilliant and the whole movie has a lovely tempo to it. Perhaps the highlight of the film is the cinematography: there are some shots which have been impeccably made, and there are several sequences where the medium of cinema is used to its very best. The chase sequences through the slums and the scenes set at the train station come to mind. Combined with skilful flashback scenes and powerful characterisation, Slumdog Millionaire draws upon all of the senses.

There are a few themes that run through the film (including love, justice and an interesting motif of destiny and/or the sovereignty and providence of God), but its major theme is India itself, in which the film is set. India not only provides the backdrop to the movie but, in many ways, is its prominent topic too. Aspects of Indian life and culture are celebrated, but it's partnered with a kind of lament (which mourns religious tension and extremism, the abuse of the most vulnerable in society and the pressures of poverty, amongst other things). It's interesting that Indian community itself has been quite divided in its reception to Slumdog. Knowing this before viewing the film made me wonder at several points whether certain aspects of Indian culture and life are really shown in a very honest light, or whether they have been exaggerated for a primarily Western audience. You'd have to wonder how the film might have been shot by an Indian director.

Still, at this very early stage of the year, Slumdog Millionaire will surely feature as one of the best. (And excitingly, one of the ones I missed from last year - Waltz with Bashir - is being shown at the independent cinema in Lancaster next week!).


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Went to see it earlier this week and is one of the best films I've ever seen.

And in terms of decoding it, I really wanted to go see it again with a notepad. Though, the world view it portrays is that of showing that wherever you come from you can make yourself better. you can beat things however bad they are because your past hurts and struggles will equip you to make you happy. I don't think its actually about the money, but more that the money gives him the freedom to do what he 'needs' to be free.

What do you think?

Dave K said...

It was an exceptional film, glad you liked it. And I think you are right that its main theme is not an 'idea' but India. It is pure fairy-tale cinema.

On the reliability, I heard Mark Kermode comment that the author of the book it is based on said that he didn't know whether eyes were burnt out or not, but that it suited his story.

But it is not meant to be incisive social comment, but entertainment. And I can think of very few times when I've seen entertainment carried off with such verve.

Oh, (as I love the sound of my own voice on cinema) I must also add that the soundtrack was highlight for me. Best I've heard since Juno and There Will Be Blood this time last year.