D: It is written.

8 December, 2008

This past weekend was one of the more stressful ones in recent memory so the prospect of seeing a Danny Boyle “feel-good film” by myself to wind down on a Sunday evening was irresistible to me. That said, the descriptions I had read from various critics and journalists was a little misleading. Yes, I felt elated when leaving the cinema, but it wasn’t quite that simple. After all, most feel-good pictures are like bad drugs; their purpose is to numb your senses and take you into a world of utter fantasy where the worst possible thing to happen to the characters is the always-contrived climax. Slumdog Millionaire is nothing like that, and that’s why it has blown so many away in the past few months.

The world of Jamal Malik is not a Hollywood soundstage. It is Mumbai. The real Mumbai. So real that in one memorable shot, a police officer looks directly into the camera and says, “No filming here.” And in this real world are real problems. The trailer only scratches the surface of what Jamal has to go through to get into Who Wants To Be a Millionaire’s hotseat, and even when he finally sits down, he is vulnerable. While my personal experiences pale in comparison to that of Jamal — I’ve never seen a loved one murdered because he/she was of the “wrong religion” —  it’s these struggles that make Slumdog Millionaire’s third act so compelling. I can’t remember the last time I was crossing my fingers for a clichéd resolution. Now that’s what I call good storytelling.

After The Darjeeling Limited, it is beyond refreshing to see a Western filmmaker portray India without patronizing it. Just like Fernando Mereilles did with City of God, Boyle takes his setting seriously and takes us seriously as viewers. Mumbai isn’t Hogwart’s; It is just as real as New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. And just as Milk was made twice as relevant by Proposition 8 controversy, Slumdog Millionaire is twice as poignant due to the tragedies that Mumbai faced just last week. As Boyle himself said at a recent awards ceremony, “It’s a city with a big heart that’s been wounded this week, but it will recover.” Never is that more apparent than in the various shots of the city’s citizens gathering together to watch their slumdog make television history right before their eyes. It is escape, something we can all relate to during desperate times.

It is not Boyle’s best film, but when you’ve made Trainspotting, the bar is going to be set unreasonably high. However, Slumdog Millionaire has come the closest so far. Please see this.


6 Responses to “D: It is written.”

  1. Andrew said

    Glad to read this, I will definetely see this once I’m finished with finals. On another note, I’ll be landing in Newark on the 22nd hopefully we can get together sometime that week.

  2. Noah said

    Awesome. We’re finally cashing in on that famous IHOP bet the day after you arrive, but other than that, I’ll be free as a bird. Also I was with Chris Wright last weekend and he definitely wants to see you again.

  3. Andrew said

    Thats great! I would love to see Chris again, its been years. I can’t seem to find your number, if you wouldn’t mind sending it to be that would be great. Thanks!

  4. Ally said

    Seen it. Absolutely loved it. Good review.

  5. David King said

    D: It is written.
    Destiny 🙂
    Love that movie… Just finished watching it!

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