Slumdog Millionaire: the review

Last night, the Better Half and I finally went to the local art/foreign movie cinema to see "Slumdog Millionaire," this year's feel-good Oscar contender.  I loved "Millions," and think that Danny Boyle is remarkably talented, so I had high hopes.  As with so many movies I have seen that were perfectly good, I wish I had heard less hype before I saw it, because I don't think it's quite as good as I'd been led to believe.  (Or, it could be that the dense core of my tar heart is unfit to enjoy quality films.  You decide.)

Don't get me wrong.  I liked the movie.  I genuinely did.  But I think the two adult leads are kind of flat, and I didn't feel as moved by the ending as I was expecting to be.  I thought the morally ambiguous older brother character was much more compelling, and I was more affected by how his story ends than I was by the protagonist/love interest plot.

I also think the movie's biggest punches come earlier, in the various stories about the characters as children.  The child actors are all winning performers, and the drama of their various predicaments eclipses the grand finale.  

And I had a bit of a challenge enjoying what are clearly meant to be some of the more light-hearted moments in the film, during which the kids tout, steal and rook their way to survival.  This is doubtless because the foils during these various scenes are credulous and well-intentioned Western tourists.  I realize that the kids are in desperate circumstances, and are fighting for survival, yadda yadda yadda, so I'm not going to argue that there isn't a justification for their behavior.  But, having been a credulous and well-intentioned Western tourist in India who got to experience (and fall for) the touts and frauds first-hand, it was hard for me to laugh all that hard at the stolen shoes and misplaced generosity and other punchlines.  It would probably really, really suck to have every piece of your luggage stolen in a deeply foreign country, no matter how charming the scamp responsible.  (Those of you who have heard my twenty-minute anecdote about visiting the Taj Mahal will, perhaps, understand my prejudices.)

These criticisms are relatively minor, and the movie is very well-made.  On the whole, I enjoyed it a lot, and the closing credit sequence is lots of fun.  I won't kvetch if it wins Best Picture.  But I wish I had seen it when it first came out, before it was this year's "Sideways" or "As Good As It Gets."


  1. You should see the indie Swedish movie "Let the right one in" really unsettling movie, the young girl actress has given the best performance I have seen.

  2. Eh, I think I'll just see "Hotel for Dogs".