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Slumdog Millionaire (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Run Time 120 minutes.

This is an inventively told movie written by Simon Beaufoy from the novel by Vikas Swarup and directed by Danny Boyle that uses the Hindi version of ďWho Wants to be a MillionaireĒ to show what life can be like in modern India.

Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is orphaned with his older brother, Salim (Madhur Mittal), when a child. They hook up with another orphan, a young girl, Latika (Freida Pinto), and the way they survive is brutal. Jamal tells the story to a police detective who doesnít believe that he can know the answers to all the questions on the show and tortures him before the final question to get him to admit heís cheating. So he tells his story, explaining how he got to know the answers to each of the questions, and that is the basis of the film.

The plot really isnít whether or not Jamal is going to win the money, itís about how and why he got where he is. All three characters are played by three different actors, all at different ages.

I finally saw the film at the UA in Marina del Rey. The color and sharpness were atrocious. Iím assuming that this was the fault of the theater and not of the filmmakers, because all the trailers that were showed before the film (20 minutes of trailers, which should be a felony) were equally dim.

This is a pretty interesting film, interestingly told, although I thought the first hour was ponderous and difficult to endure. It did pick up during the last hour when all the people had achieved adulthood and we werenít dealing with small children. Jamalís infatuation with Latika is a little hard to buy, considering the minimal contact that we are shown them having. However, he made a good pick because by the time she turns into Freida Pinto, she is beautiful.

The best part of the movie is the way it shows what life is like in India for those unfortunate enough not to have much money. What happens to Jamal, Salim, and Latika is brutal. This is a movie, so I have no way of knowing how realistic it is. Filmmakers often insert shocking scenes for the sake of cinema.

Itís an entertaining movie, but Oscarģ-quality? With apologies to John McEnroe, you cannot be serious.