Slumdog Millionaire tracks the lives of Jamal Malik and his older brother Salim and an orphan girl Latika.
Questions on a game show in the present connect to a past filled with stultifying poverty, a life of crime, bloodshed and personal danger and starvation, and how these kids use street guile and sometimes just dumb luck to survive.
Jamal’s story begins on India’s adaptation of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The Hindi host isn’t as charismatic or as nice Regis Philbin and has the boy imprisoned and tortured in between shows because slum dwellers aren’t supposed to be that smart. He’s convinced Jamal is somehow cheating.
The irony is each question’s answer is found in a trip into the past and each trip into the past hooks you more deeply into Jamal and Salim’s incredible story and Boyle’s wonderful movie.
Few directors get people like Danny Boyle. Even fewer writers understand how to write a character such as Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Miss Pettygrew Lives for a Day). It is amazing how they get so much emotional mileage and so much power out of so little dialogue.
A few years ago millions missed director Boyle’s best film Millions. Four major awards at the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations and lots of buzz means millions will see Slumdog Millionaire which, of the movies on Boyle’s excellent resume, runs a close second.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated R for violence, mature themes. It opens Friday, Jan. 23 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.