Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – Film Review

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Starring Dev Patel and Freida Pinto 

Directed by Danny Boyle, adaption of the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup

IMDB Rating 8.0 

Review written by Rachel Geiger

An intense yet uplifting film that represents a culture not typically represented or very popular in American films.

Jamal Malik is a contestant on the Indian version on the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” He’s one question away from winning the money which creates drama and questions of cheating. He is harassed and tortured by the police who believe that there’s no way a “slumdog” could know the answers to these questions. Jamal had very little schooling and was poor and lived in the slums of India and saw tremendous horrible images all throughout his life. We are then taken through various flashbacks of his life with his brother and reveals how he knew each answer due to a part in his life.

The story is a beautiful and sometimes hard to watch look at the slums of India. It also reveals how their police system works. Meaning, they resort to violence when they arrest Jamal and suspect him of cheating. Even the game show host believes that he’s nothing but a slumdog who has little knowledge. The story gets interesting and complex as we’re introduced to the love story in the plot. This is between Jamal and Latika – a girl he met on the streets when he was young. Jamal’s brother is straight up evil but I really love the relationships between the three that evolves throughout the movie.

The acting in this movie is impressive and believable. Dev Patel is a strong actor who makes Jamal an extremely likable character who’s impossible not to cheer on. You want Jamal to win the million dollars and most of this is due to Dev’s ability to bring that character to life and show us all the horrors he’s been through. Adult Latika really doesn’t have that big of a role and isn’t all that complex. I would’ve liked to see things from her point of view and learn the horrors she had to go through when she was separated from Jamal but the performance of Pinto does allude to the horrors which is enough to sympathize with her. The performance of his brother Salim is convincing – you start to hate him from the beginning of the film and the adult Salim is the most evil yet complicated character of all. Since the movie has a lot of flashbacks, we get to see the three main characters (Jamal, Latika, and Salim) as a child, teen, and adult. The children and teens were adorable and convincing in their roles.

The directing by Danny Boyle was incredible. He’s a rather prestigious English filmmaker and this is one of my personal favorites that he’s directed. Right behind that is definitely Trainspotting but we’ll talk about that some other time. Boyle won an Oscar and BAFTA for best director (the film won seven other awards as well)  His work on this movie was so great because he captured the slums of India in a real and heartbreaking way. You truly get to see the pains and hardships of what they were forced to go through which is an impressive thing to show.

This is a movie that you just have to see because it gives you so much perspective and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire movie. Even though you know it’s all going to be alright in the end, you still have that built up tension which makes you to never stop watching it!