Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

2008, R, 120 min. Directed by Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan. Starring Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Irrfan Khan, Ankur Vikal.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 12, 2008

To my knowledge, nobody has ever accused Brit director Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) of having a deficit in the style department. Only rarely has he seemed to favor that trademark style over some substantive story and characterization – the less said about A Life Less Ordinary, the better. Even The Beach had something wise to say about the brittle nature of society and personal idealism and what happens when the two begin to clash. Slumdog Millionaire, which seems to pick up a new raft of critics' awards just about every day (it snagged the Out of Competition Feature Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival), is a mad, thrilling, and perversely luminous film. It may be drenched in the saffron and violet palettes of its Mumbai setting, but it plays like a classic Hollywood rags-to-riches love story, albeit one with Bollywood roots and a fully globalized desire to survive, succeed, live, and love within the teeming megalopolis formerly known as Bombay. It's a natural fit for Boyle and director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle. Mumbai is nothing if not giddy chaos incarnate. Patel, in his feature debut, is the "slumdog" of the title, a reed-thin young striver named Jamal Malik. Jamal has managed to survive the crushing poverty and daily tragedies of his birthplace and has somehow landed himself on the Hindi version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Everyone in Mumbai wants to know how this lower-caste lad wangled his way into the million-rupee hot seat. Boyle and locations co-director Tandan, working from Simon Beaufoy's unflaggingly sensual script, smartly use Jamal's millionaire queries as both a framing device and a springboard to all that has led up to his "final answer." It's a doozy of a story that piles on the traditional Holly- and Bollywood melodrama but never shies away or strays too far from the Ganges and the ghetto. Still, for all its mind-boggling imagery and a magical score by A.R. Rahman (with additional soundtracking courtesy of M.I.A.), Slumdog has as its beating heart a trio of actors – Patel, the willowy Pinto (playing Jamal's lost love Latika), and the electric Mittal as Jamal's wayward brother, Salim – who go beyond their characters to bring to life the sprawling, strangely Dickensian city of Mumbai itself. It's all hopelessly lovestruck, awestruck, and full of epic-sized emotions and splendor, but Slumdog Millionaire is also very much a film of the moment. There's blood running in the Mumbai gutters, to be sure, but Boyle and his spot-on cast never let us forget that that same crimson ebb also flows straight to the heart. Like Mumbai, Slumdog pulses and throbs with raw, unadulterated life and the hope for a better Bombay, today. It's brilliant.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Slumdog Millionaire
The Final Answer
The Final Answer
Slumdog’s soundtrack is no slouch itself

Chase Hoffberger, Jan. 14, 2009

More Danny Boyle Films
T2 Trainspotting
The sequel to the 1996 classic

Marc Savlov, March 24, 2017

Steve Jobs
Everyone works at the top of their game to deliver this timely biopic

Kimberley Jones, Oct. 16, 2015

More by Marc Savlov
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
Welcome back, Mister Wick: Everyone's favorite merciless killer gets more human and more intriguing

May 17, 2019

Carmine Street Guitars
Spend time with the quiet artisans who make the instruments that rock & roll is built upon

May 10, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan, Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Irrfan Khan, Ankur Vikal

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle