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Movie Review: 'Slumdog' a riveting tale of love lost and found

Lane Blevins • Mar 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM

In a desperate attempt not to go see “The Jonas Brothers 3D Concert Experience” or “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li,” I decided it would be best to do a full review of “Slumdog Millionaire,” the 81st film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

After all, now that Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog” has worked its way into the cultural consciousness via an Oscar night sweep, the film is being released again to a wider range of theaters.

And besides, what could I possibly have to say about the Jonas Brothers? Nothing good, I assure you.

If you didn’t know, “Slumdog Millionaire” is the story of Jamal Malik and his brother Salim, who were both orphaned at a young age. Forced to make a living by any means necessary in the mega-slums of Mumbai, the two “slumdog” brothers get into situations far outside of their maturity level — which is, as it would seem, the lot of almost every slumdog’s life.

Jamal’s story is juxtaposed with the present, as he is being tortured by the police. Jamal is being tortured because he is currently a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and has answered more questions correctly than anyone in the history of the show.

Since he is a slumdog, the police suspect him of cheating. But as Jamal explains his story, you find out that he simply knew the answers to the questions because of chance occurrences in his life that he clearly remembers.

Nearly all of Jamal’s experiences have been driven by his search for Latika, a girl he met when he was a young boy. Having found her and lost her twice (both by betrayals of his brother, Salim), Jamal only goes on the show “Millionaire” in the hopes that she may be watching.

In the press, you will most certainly hear many of the same general summations about “Slumdog Millionaire” — the terms “fairy tale” and “rags-to-riches story,” especially often.

But for me, the most thrilling part about this wonderful little film is how director Danny Boyle has brought a city to life and taken it straight to mainstream cinema.

Boyle is known for his ability to capture urban settings. His cock-eyed camera angles, gritty shot compositions, use of music and fever-pitch editing style make the screen seem to literally breathe with life as the underbelly of Mumbai is exposed for all to see.

“Slumdog Millionaire” is armed with fantastic music, incredible directing and phenomenal performances from real-life children of the Mumbai slums. It is a riveting tale of fantasy, fortune and a love lost and found again. From the first frame to the Bollywood musical ending, I was in the palm of this picture’s hand.

Whatever you do, see this picture in the theater. Let it immerse you. There are so few films that come out that make you feel good about the money you spent to see it. “Slumdog Millionaire” is among these proud few.

4 stars (out of 4)

STARRING: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil KapoorDIRECTED BY: Danny BoyleRATED: R for some violence, disturbing images and languageRUNNING TIME: 2 hours

Lane Blevins is a recent graduate of East Tennessee State University and an aspiring filmmaker.

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