Movie Review: "Slumdog Millionaire"

Yes, I was super late in seeing this film. I had it on my list of movies to see back in Dec, and I finally got a chance to see it today. I'm sure most folks know what this film is about, but I'll quickly recap anyway. Its the story of Jamal Malik, who is competing on India's version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" Jamal is a poor kid from the slums of Mumbai (hence "slumdog") and everyone is amazed that he's 1 question away from the grand prize, which has never been achieved before, even by the highly educated contestants. Its assumed he must be cheating, so he gets beaten up by the police and they make him explain how he knows the answers to the obscure questions on the show.

The movie consistently flashes between the "present", when Jamal is on the game show, and his past, as he describes the events in his life that have both shaped him and given him the knowledge to be successful on the show. We see him growing up with 2 people that are central in his life - his older brother Salim and Latika, a girl from the slums.

Usually I hate flashback films, but in this film it didn't bother me at all. The screenplay and cinematography allowed for seamless transitions between the present and the flashbacks. Most films make flashbacks very jerky and awkward, but that wasn't a problem here.

Immediately this film gets you to be on Jamal's side. You want him to make it, especially as you see some of the things he goes through in his young life. As I watched this film, I couldn't help but think about how this film could have been set in the US. Poor kid in slums/ghetto, goes through so many traumatic experiences just to be able to eat and have a roof over his head, stays strong and struggles, but eventually makes it to something bigger and better. This just goes to show that the plight of the poor and downtrodden isn't unique to the US, in fact, poor people all over the world share a common existence.

The character I hated the most was the brother, Salim. I still can't figure out exactly was the motivation for some of his behaviors in the film, especially towards the end. A bit more development of his character and unveiling of his motivations would have been helpful, but I understand why the writers and director didn't go down that road.

Overall, I was captivated and moved by "Slumdog Millionaire". I thought it was a touching story told in an intriguing way that both entertained me and sparked thoughts in my mind.

Definitely go check out this film if you get a chance.