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VINE VOICEon December 21, 2008
Slumdog Millionaire deserves a place among the masterpieces of world cinema. Praise is pouring in for this brilliant film, directed by Danny Boyle from a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy adapted from a novel by Vikas Swarup.

The settings move from the bleakest - the slums outside Mumbai, where our hero, Jamal Malik, lives as a child with his older brother Salim - to high rise vistas and no less than the Taj Mahal. The story ranges from the worst despair and heartbreak to the noblest sacrifice and most romantic love.

We are introduced in the opening moments to the young adult Jamal, played by Dev Patel. He is a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and has just answered the ten million rupee question prior to the end of the show. His next question will be worth twenty million rupees, an unimaginable fortune to the average Indian. The arrogant, primping star of the show, played with artificial charm concealing an oily narcissism by Anil Kapoor, cannot stand that young Jamal is stealing some of his spotlight, and believes that the young, uneducated "slumdog" is cheating. (One of the key sequences involves the host "proving" to himself that Jamal MUST be cheating.) Jamal has been handed over to the police, who torture him to make him confess his deception. This moment in Jamal's life frames the rest of the film, told in flashback, and explains the torturous road that allowed Jamal to answer even the most difficult questions.

We are not told about Jamal and Salim's father, but in an early sequence we see their mother murdered in a brutal religion riot as club-wielding Hindu's attack a Muslim slum. Orphaned, Jamal and Salim live in the trash dump at the edge of the slum. They befriend another orphan, the young girl Latika.

The remainder of the film fills in the gaps of the lives of Jamal and Salim and Latika, who call themselves the Three Musketeers, but only got far enough in school before the murder of their mother to learn the names Athos and Porthos. Along the way they encounter police brutality, orphanage directors who make Fagin and Bill Sykes look like Mother Teresa, as well as Indian gangsters and other people-traffickers. Several sequences show us that Salim is becoming hardened by their harsh life, although he retains a degree of love for Jamal. For his part Jamal makes the most of what life gives him. He only resorts to the criminal activities Salim sees as the only way to make it out of necessity. At two different times Jamal is heart-breakingly separated from Latika, and at one level the entire film is a love story about Jamal's single-minded dedication to reunite with the only girl he ever loved. (Nine astonishing performances are given of the "Three Musketeers" at three different ages of life, and it is appropriate to give credit to Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubiana Ali as the youngest Jamal, Salim and Latika as well as Tanay Chheda, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala and Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar as the just-past-puberty versions. Dev Patel and the beautiful Freida Pinto may become international sensations as the adult star-crossed lovers. Madhur Mittal has less screen time as the adult Salim, but his character plays an important role.)

The faint-hearted should know that the language could appear on American television and that there is no nudity, but the violence, in particular two torture scenes, are flinch-inducing.

Slumdog is a piece of fiction - a fantasy - but it includes real emotions and believable human characters. I walked from the theater feeling a little better about being alive, and knowing that I had just viewed a stunning artistic achievement.

One of the inequities of the movie business is that a film like this can only open in a few theaters in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and take weeks to arrive at "lesser" destinations like Atlanta and Houston and St. Louis, while Beverly Hills Chihuahua opened nationwide on thousands of screens. I'm just sayin'.
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on July 20, 2009
I saw this movie back in the Christmas season last year with some reluctance. Were it not for a good friend edging me on I probably would not have bothered. I incorrectly sensed that it was just another drippy foreign film about drippy people living on the edge and getting lucky.

Boy was I wrong.

This is such a smart, cleverly woven story with a classic twist--reminding me of Dickens--and all the stuff we love about life, but what's really striking--and I just watched this twice on DVD--is the precious love that is expressed here.

Lump in throat anyone?

Goosey bumps, too?

I just lap it up. Call me a sucker--but I had to re-play the last two minutes over and over again--where our hero brushes his sweetie's scarred cheek...and you either already know or will know the rest. It just kills me every time.The quintessential message is: LOVE OVER $$, GOLD, whatever, ANY DAY!

Amen.
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on April 17, 2009
I have read a few reviews that bashed Slumdog, and though I see a point to them, I LOVE this film. I have lived in Faridabad ( just outside of Deli), and have firsthand seen some of the things the film touched on. In the spirit of Mira Nair, Boyle opens ones eyes to this incredible country, but he doesn't sugar coat things like most Bollywood films ( which are basically musicals, some with depth others that are laughable but enjoyable nonetheless).
Slumdog divulges what real India is like: a fight for survival, but one that has moments of beauty in it as well. Again, MOMENTS. The amount of children MUTILATED and forced by parents and others to work is disgusting. It is beyond belief. I was in the Deli area, and that has nothing on Calcutta or some of the bad areas of Mumbai.
And despite this, one can see a beauty in these people that simply does not exist in the West. One brief scene ( SPOILER) in the movie when Dev is about to play the last round of Millionare, a woman on the street taps on his window and says 'go and win it all'. THIS type of genuine 'I'm happy for you', aka namaste, aka respect exists amongst the dire poverty.
And then Slumdog dives into the Muslim-Hindu tension. In the kashmir region, fighting is horrendous. This type of confusion, dislike, and sometimes hatred exists between these two religions, and now with the recent terrorist attacks, things aren't looking too good.
Slumdog Millionaire shows how hard working, diligent, determined, and driven many ( most) Indians are in their fight to survive and feed themselves/their families. The main character has to do this from when he was born, which is a sad reality for many infants/kids there.
THE FILM IS ARTISTIC, FAST PACED AND TYPICAL BOYLE STYLE, WITH A GREAT SOUNDTRACK.
Please watch it, and then DO something about what you have seen. Go and visit the country. It will change your life.
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It's fresh and it's magical and horrific. It's the hero's story of a quest. And it's the story of the city of Mumbai, India, with its vast contrasts of utter poverty in an emerging modern world. It moves with lightning speed and I found myself smiling one minute and grimacing in disgust in another. It's an emotional roller coaster ride that left me exhilarated and convinced that this breakthrough film is a true global masterpiece.

The film opens as a young Indian man competes on a television quiz show. He is winning and winning. In the next scene he is being tortured by the police because they think he is cheating as he is not educated and is a child of the slums. His story is then told in flashbacks, as the audience learns how he came to know the answers to each of the questions.

We meet him and his brother as young children living on the street and exploited by gangsters to become street beggars. However, there is constant humor in juxtaposition to the wince-inducing revulsion which adds a special kind of humanity to the story. Through all the misfortunes to which the brothers are exposed, there is an upbeat quality to the film, as we come to understand that it was these traumatic incidents in this young man's life that taught him the specific answers to the question being asked on the quiz show.

Of course there is also a romance. Our hero is looking for the young woman he loves, a childhood companion through the horror, who is still being exploited by the Indian underworld, which now includes his brother.

All of this is packed in an upbeat and moving story that involved me from the beginning and made me want to stand up and cheer at the happy ending.

This is not a film to be missed. It breaks all the stereotypes and comes across as a groundbreaking fresh new voice in the landscape of the world of film. I give it my highest recommendation.
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on October 4, 2010
Do not buy this DVD if you are interested in the special features listed on the box and at the Amazon site. This DVD does not contain the making of, the deleted scenes or the audio commentary. The special features contain only trailers for 4 other movies. The movie is great, but the main reason I bought the DVD was to watch the making of. This false advertisement was a complete disappointment.
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An unimaginable RollerCoaster ride from the squalor of a Mumbai slum to a completely believable realization of the most profound longing of all of us.
Being an old gringo who has never had personal contact with Hindi folks or visited India, I got connected via Bollywood. I am a high end home audio professional and my first attraction, besides the stunning actresses, was the really artful make use of surround sound and the engaging musical arrangements. That said, I first chased my way through the make believe world of the musical romantic comedies. Searching for more, I ran into some of the real gritty and honest views of life in India. They can leave you emotionally drained with the full complement of guilt, sympathy and a profound respect for the strength of the Human spirit.
This film is an amazing example of demonstrating the best and worst of what we can be. Nothing is held back. Against the vivd images of life in the squalor and horror of life in almost unlivable conditions, we are graphically shown the very best and worst of what we can be. We are reminded of the seemingly limitless optimism of children.
You will find it very hard to avoid becoming completely immersed emotionally in this film. As gritty and horrifying as it becomes, the depth of character and spirit of selfless devotion will overshadow everything else.
Just reviewing my emotional extremes as I took this ride, I am still amazed. When I watched it the fourth or fifth time I started looking for flaws in the characters and progress of the action or even the ending. A movie about making enough money to take you to a living Disneyland is never about the money or the Disneyland dream life that it would buy. That is just the common denominator carrot that draws you into the so much bigger story of a child's dreams and if you get a chance to step back from the torrent of emotion that you are assailed with, you get to see how dangerous the money and what it brings with it are. I guess I never really sat down and analyzed just how much this movie had to say or how much insight is revealed. Just stunning.
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on August 23, 2014
The images in this film will remain with you for life. It is an amazing story and very original in it's portrayal. This film shows two brothers who grew up in the same exact circumstances, but one takes the path of material wealth while the other is more interested in the spiritual wealth of love. I did however have some issues with the script. Some spoilers: Mainly with the character of Salim, Jamal's older brother. His portrayal seemed to be lacking in the film and at times a bit confusing. We see from the start that he is a torn individual. On the one hand he loves his brother very much, but on the other hand he is a hot head and a bully who wants to control those around him making him a conflicted and rich character. However it's hard to understand why Jamil continues to trust him throughout the film even after he rapes Latika and even after he kidnaps Latika at the train station. It gets even more confusing when Latika seems to care about Salim when he tries to reunite her with Jamal at the end, worried that his boss will kill him. The movie doesn't explain at all why these characters continue to place their hearts with Salim after everything he's already done to them. And the only indication we get from the film that Salim has doubts about his behavior is a couple of lines where he prays to allah that he knows he has sinned and where he says "I know" after Jamal says he'll never forgive him... but this happens also before he kidnaps Latika from the train station and scars her face for life. I think Salim's character would've had more impact if we were able to truly see his moral struggle which was difficult to detect. After all this is a man who was grappling so much with his guilt that he chose to kill himself in a tub of all the dirty money he helped aquire over the years. We should've seen the signs of this immense struggle that led him to do this and I don't feel that we really did. Another problem is the issue with Salim's cell phone. He gives Latika his cell phone obviously because he feels Jamal will call him for some reason. How could he be so sure that Jamal would call him after everything he had done? Then at the end Jamal does not know how to reach Latika so he waits for her at the train station hoping she'll show up. But wait- Doesn't she have Salim's phone? So why doesn't Jamal just call her up instead? These issues were what kept me from giving this amazing story 5 stars. Still, the movie is unforgettable and will leave a permanent imprint in your mind.
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on June 3, 2016
Due to racial tensions, Muslims like 5-year-old Jamal were harassed and constantly seeking refuge. When fleeing physical attacks in the Juhu slums of Mumbai, Jamal was separated from Latika, a girl his same age. He never forgot her even as an 18-year-old adult. In his search for her, he goes on the television program Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? as a contestant. With 90 million viewers, he hopes she will be watching and make her whereabouts known to him.
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on October 9, 2015
I sort of avoided this movie for a long time, it looked to be all over the place in the trailers I watched., Slumdog is so well acted and directed that I had to admit I was wrong.

This movie is flat out heart breaking, no pretty song and dance with wealthy pretty people. Political corruption, child slavery, environmental trash heaps, violence as always the wealthy making sure they stay on top while ignoring the less fortunate all starring you in the face.

Unlike real life for many in this movie there is a feel good happy ending.
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on October 21, 2010
I think this movie is a true masterpiece of cinema. So beautifully woven together - the music, the cinematography, the screenplay, the performances, the art direction, the love story. It all works together on so many levels and this movie touches me more deeply than most of the movies I've seen in my life. I went to see it like five times in the movie theater and I felt as if I had traveled to another place without even leaving my seat! It's that much of a cinematic experience. A LOVELY PIECE OF WORK!
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