"How many American films is one British film worth? Just about a milion."
Nix every G family flick you were planning on catching at the theater (Racing Stripes, Robots, The Pacifier), and instead just go to Millions, the latest from chameleon director Danny Boyle.Boyle’s body of work (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) wouldn’t have you predicting that Millions, a genuinely heartfelt, kid-friendly charmer, would be his next effort. The simple story of a little boy who discovers a bag of loot is a far cry from Ewan McGregor crawling down the drain of a filthy toilet. And it’s also an irresistible one.
Damien (played by the adorable Alexander Etel), is a youngster who rattles off trivia about saints and also talks to them frequently – they’ve got halos and everything.
Just as England prepares to adopt the Euro as currency, a bag of money crashes through Damien’s cardboard fort. It’s a race against the clock as he searches for poor people to give the money away to. If Damien’s heart was made of gold, it’d be 24 karat indeed – he has the kind of purity you wish would rub off on the rest of the world. Meanwhile, his older brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) is interested in buying property and a posse at school.
When it’s revealed that the two boys were made rich because of something that doesn’t quite resemble a miracle from God, Damien’s faith in the goodness of people is given a good shake and things start to get way more complicated than the basic money conversion.
It’s pretty remarkable to watch a film that is grounded in such childlike innocence and guided by such a firm moral compass. And yet none of Millions is unbelievable (even the conversations between Damien and the various saints) and there’s not a touch of sermonizing to be found.
Boyle’s movie is as effortless as it is touching. He lets the story speak for itself, but his fingerprints are on every frame – from the exaggerated surroundings to the breezy pace. And his amazing direction of the two young stars just solidifies him as my favorite filmmaker.
The script’s hardly predictable and never unoriginal and the cast is so good, it’s almost unnoticeable.Atel steals your heart in the first scene and never gives it back to you. This is a film even the most skeptical of critics will fall in love with.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. For more in the 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival series, click here.