As always, spoilers follow.
So this is it then. The big one. The winner of the best picture last year, Slumdog Millionaire. It’s a movie which has a hell of a lot packed into it over the course of two hours. There’s torture, romance, murder, poverty, gangsters, dancing and the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? So did it deserve the awards, the hype, the praise? Let’s find out, won’t we?
The movie’s set in India, specifically Mumbai for the most part and tell the tale of Jamal Malik, his brother Salim and the girl of Jamal’s dreams, Latika, children born in the slums of the city who are all orphaned by a Hindu attack on their Muslim slums. The film follows their journeys over the years, joined at times, separated at others and all told by an older Jamal during an interview with the police. Why is he being interviewed by the police? Well, he’s currently on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? And he’s doing so well that he’s arrested after his first night on the programme after getting the penultimate question correct, accused of fraud because, honestly, how could someone who grew up on the streets and is currently working as a tea boy possibly know the answers to so many questions? He’s tortured by the police at first and when that doesn’t shed any light on the subject they decided to interview him and he relays that he knows the answers to the questions due to various events throughout his life.
And that’s a bit of a problem I have with this film. It’s a bit damn convenient that the questions are asked in a sequence that would allow his flashbacks to have a coherent narrative. Still, it’s a bit of a minor point especially if you buy into the underlying point of the film that everything that happened was destined to turn out that way.
Now, one of the phrases that got thrown about after this film blew up massively was that it was a feel good hit, a really uplifting experience and I have to call bullshit on that. Every time something good happens, something terrible happens either at the same time or a short time afterwards, Even the moment where Jamal is about to answer the final question is counterbalanced by his brother Salim, who has finally redeemed himself to some extent, being shot the shit out of. As for Salim there are times when he is so unrelentingly cuntish that he’s almost unbelievable as a character but again, it’s kind of a minor point and it’s kinda necessary to push the plot forward.
Still, that’s not to say it’s a depressing film, though many, many depressing things happen during it, such as a young boy being blinded by acid in order to make him a more effective beggar. I just feel as though the uplifting nature of the film has been a little overplayed.
There’s also a general sense throughout the film that India is a horrible, horrible place filled with slums, children living in dumps and being blinded by bastard orphanage owners and I guess I can’t say that it isn’t and it is genuinely rewarding when you see Jamal doing everything he can to get himself out of that world whilst trying to take Latika with him.
Damn, there’s so much going on in this film that I’m finding it hard to write a coherent review so fuck it, I’ll finish here. So, did Slumdog Millionaire deserve the Oscar? Well, it’s a very, very good film. It’s shot beautifully, excellently paced and the actors are all pretty damn good, except for some tourists who seem to have some very dubious accents. Still, personally I’d have given the award to Frost/Nixon which was definitely the film I enjoyed out of the crop of the Best Picture nominees. I‘d probably give Milk an award over this as well. Still, if I had to rate Slumdog Millionaire I’d give it four out of five pints and I still highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t.
So, that’s the Academy Awards Best Pictures nominees covered. Next I’ll be taking a look at the Worst Picture nominees from the Razzies so look forward to reviews of classics such as Disaster Movie and The Love Guru. If blog pages could be stained with tears then these would be…