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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 15.17%
Average: 8.99%
Pretty Bad: 16.85%
Total Crap: 14.04%

7 reviews, 136 user ratings

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Slumdog Millionaire
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by brianorndorf

"A cinematic triumph with all the right answers"
5 stars

Rarely has a film of such visual and narrative confidence come along quite like “Slumdog Millionaire.” Director Danny Boyle’s adaptation of the Vikas Swarup novel “Q and A” is a searing portrait of the human spirit, crafted with such harrowing scenes of peril and heart-wrenching effusion, it’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen. It’s a classic story of adversity told with outstanding passion and visual agility, and while it’s housed in a bleak setting populated with some truly vile characters, it’s almost guaranteed to soothe any viewer with a soft spot for beautifully sculpted contrivance.

Having found his way to the hot seat on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” young Jamal (Dev Patel) is quickly approaching the top prize, having defied all the odds with his string of correct answers. Accused of cheating, Jamal is arrested and brutally interrogated by a suspicious detective (the great Irfan Kahn). In an attempt to protect his life, Jamal carefully explains how he came to hold the answers to the difficult game show questions, tracing back through his life and divulging the horrors he witnessed in the slums of Mumbai with older brother Salim (Madhur Mattal) and fellow orphan, and object of desire, Latika (Freida Pinto).

When I write “contrivance,” I’m aware it calls to mind the worst of cinematic insecurity: the relentless pandering to help keep box office returns up by feeding the world a comforting mush of the familiar; however, “Slumdog” is not this kind of lazy story telling. Instead Boyle takes the machinations of a traditional tragic romance and breathes new life into the clichés, leaning more toward the grit of Jamal’s life than his fragments of jubilance. It’s all stuffed into a sprawling story of a life lived under the thumb of poverty, violence, and guilt, presented a single miracle evening that could possibly induce an entire reversal of fortune.

Employing his trademarked visual frenzy, Boyle “(Trainspotting,” “28 Days Later,” “Sunshine”) wraps the viewer up in the chaotic motion of Indian street life, where life is cheap, the ramshackle communities are built on towers of rubbish, and the citizens make do the best they can. To track his impending “Millionaire” question showdown, Jamal is forced to relive his life for the local authorities, plunging back to horrors buried and childhood lost. Boyle plays with time and location to a dazzling degree, keeping the audience unsettled as the camera shadows Jamal’s extreme boyhood trauma, facing shocking parental loss, “Oliver Twist” style exploitation from a kingpin of child street beggars, and the continual elusiveness of Latika, whose liberation from the clutches of sexual and physical abuse becomes a personal quest for Jamal.

While “Slumdog” certainly follows disturbing dramatic passages to build a formidable wall of desperation for Jamal, the picture is saved from a depressive tone by Boyle and his celebration of self-preservation, often backed by an outstanding soundtrack of vivacious hip-hop and electronic cuts that propel the story forward. Jamal doesn’t recognize Mumbai or anywhere else he lands to be a place of despondency, it’s just a new land to conquer under the instruction of his brother. Boyle is cautious to maintain a sense of humor to “Slumdog,” most notably when the boys arrive at the Taj Mahal, inadvertently becoming clueless guides to gullible Euro tourists, stealing shoes on the side.

The final act of “Slumdog” is fixated on Jamal’s longing heart, and while Boyle allows a surplus of tenderness to enter the picture, he shies away from pure sugar. Even if the needle of destiny between Jamal and Latika isn’t threaded throughout the film as tightly as needed, the actors, both relative newcomers, explore the hunger with perfection. The relationship positions the story into a place of outrageous suspense, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat as Jamal faces down a final trivia question that could make or break his life. The answer is perhaps not surprising, but the journey is consistently extraordinary.

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originally posted: 11/15/08 00:45:14
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
5/17/17 Louise Grips from start to finish! Great soundtrack too. 5 stars
4/20/14 Ewan Lewis Messy... The book is a good-read the movie is terrible...All their is really to say... :/ 1 stars
12/24/11 debbie hodgdon so good i went to the theatre twice and brought a friend 5 stars
12/30/09 terror watch the unusual structure makes it a great film 5 stars
10/26/09 RLan a well done love story. Not best picture worthy, but still a good film. 4 stars
10/22/09 Emma i LOVE this movie. it is my favorite now. i don't think it's shallow or contrived crap... 5 stars
8/18/09 parrot outstanding cinema 5 stars
7/13/09 nic cage this movie is like city of god with a bollywood feel 5 stars
7/07/09 michael mann i personally think this is boyle's best film, diff from trainspotting 5 stars
7/05/09 MP Bartley Colourful but contrived, stylish but shallow; a messy success. 4 stars
7/03/09 roger federer beautiful visuals alone make this a masterpiece 5 stars
6/29/09 blackberry outstanding, outstanding and outstanding 5 stars
6/28/09 will tenner beautiful feel good cinema 5 stars
6/27/09 gandalf very good filmmaking style, cinemaography 5 stars
6/22/09 devastator like a modern update on charles dickens 5 stars
6/22/09 Simon A needed fresh setting of imagery, but trite-gimmicky plot renders themes non-transcendent 4 stars
6/18/09 jurisprudence outstanding story, great editing and cineamtography 5 stars
6/12/09 tung ton deserved oscar; feel good pic yes, great story too 5 stars
6/03/09 Pete Snot A hopelessly contrived mess, simplistic and forgettable. 1 stars
6/03/09 Anannya 1st half great although a bit much. 2nd half ridiculous. Love story protracted and shitty. 4 stars
5/26/09 Anonymous. didn't think it was '08's best picture, but still really good. 4 stars
5/09/09 Disappointed Not moving. Isn't there enough real poverty to find a real story to base this on? Sham. 2 stars
5/04/09 Mac Where is erik and the other quality reviewers? this was amazing. cornelius is the worst. 5 stars
4/29/09 dude easily one of the best movies i've seen last year 5 stars
4/13/09 skinner oustanding direction 5 stars
4/10/09 farrow no the movie is better than the book 5 stars
4/09/09 tarantino one of the best movies ever made. Very well directed 5 stars
4/02/09 conair best movie ever 5 stars
4/01/09 Gorgon Zola Isn't there a law prohibiting this much schmaltz in a movie? 2 stars
4/01/09 Gorgon Zola Maybe they should call the Razzies Oscars and the Oscars Razzies. Would make more sense. 1 stars
3/23/09 Bnorm Great movie. it affected me like every great movie should. 5 stars
3/14/09 mr.mike 4.5 stars 4 stars
3/02/09 Ruben If you want the true Slumdog Millionaire experience read the book. The movie is no match. 2 stars
3/02/09 Koitus I thought it was very well done. Very few "dry eyes" after viewing the ending scene. 5 stars
2/28/09 Elaine first half excellent, second half OK 4 stars
2/26/09 rose Fantastic Movie- worth every award that it got! 5 stars
2/25/09 Dorie One of the most exciting, endearing, satisfying movie I have seen for a long, long time. 5 stars
2/24/09 pm Long , boring , Best picture ? I just do not get it. 1 stars
2/24/09 Vince If this exact movie took place in american ghetto it would have been seen as garbage it is 2 stars
2/23/09 noops.... The name itself is bull shit.... they r not dogs .... damn u danny.... 1 stars
2/23/09 Steven We've all seen this movie before, just not with Indian actors. That itself will fool many. 2 stars
2/23/09 L.C. Liked this movie, but it was not the best of the year. 4 stars
2/21/09 RedBaron Weak plot, weak characters, bad acting (except for the kid actors) 2 stars
2/21/09 Mira Slum kids don't speak English, you fool. Contrived shit. 1 stars
2/20/09 Derkerdog Over-rated to say the least. Shallow and predictable. 1 stars
2/19/09 Obi Wan Saw this after Hype, it was good. Not great. Dark Knight was better, so was Doubt 4 stars
2/12/09 incomepoop like it, esp the last 45 minutes or so, very suspenseful, all the tv watchers 4 stars
2/10/09 Aesop Poverty: bad. Schlock: Good. Like we needed this info. 1 stars
2/09/09 sid2323 Had potential but lost steam; esp with the romance side of things. Kid actors were great! 3 stars
2/08/09 zarf critic seems to think everywher is like the US. movie wasnt demeaning at all. great movie! 5 stars
2/06/09 Alejandro Sosa Out of this word amazing, couldn't take my eyes of the screen. 5 stars
2/04/09 MP Bartley Colourful and vibrant if uneven at the end. 4 stars
2/03/09 dude forgettable, contrived, exploitative, undeserving of grammatically correct comment 2 stars
2/03/09 Piz Love all the negative reviews-it shows how idiotic people are. This movie is outstanding! 5 stars
2/03/09 jcjs33 easily best picture of the year other than 'Rachel Getting Married' , a wowser 5 stars
1/30/09 Alec Walked out after 10 minutes. Not for me . . . 2 stars
1/29/09 Ray Agree with reviewer. This film is overhyped and shallow filled with lazy caricatures/ 3 stars
1/27/09 Luisa Absolutely compelling. Child actors are amazing. Great flick! 5 stars
1/26/09 phillip usually agree with this reviewer. not this time. 5 stars
1/26/09 Marion Pitiful passivity of the slumdog heroine devoid of credibility. Totally ruined it for me. 2 stars
1/25/09 Peta The 1st half of this movie was fantasic; the 2nd half was contrived crap of the worst kind! 1 stars
1/25/09 Pete Painful 1 stars
1/25/09 Anita Hugely entertaining along with outstanding social commentary. Bravo! 5 stars
1/24/09 Iyps I would say it is worth the buck... Energy of the film is great, except few disgusting sce 4 stars
1/24/09 jcjs33 Best Picture along with 'Rachel...'clever, fast, colorful, wow music, real, wonderful 5 stars
1/24/09 Joanne I HATED this movie!! HATED HATED HATED. 1 stars
1/23/09 s. Liked the movie but liked Kite Runner better. Entertaining copy-cat movie. 5 stars
1/23/09 Patrick I enjoyed the movie but it had many flaws. The central love story was implausible. 4 stars
1/23/09 Arif Zaidi Lightening fast pace movie, sparkling colors, terrific camera, superb script. Blockbuster. 5 stars
1/22/09 Randy It's different and I love it for that. Hyped or not it was great! 5 stars
1/22/09 Jason I AGREE THIS FILM SUCKS 2 stars
1/20/09 anusree wonderful............. 5 stars
1/20/09 Judy Had to depart after 10 minutes, too violent 2 stars
1/19/09 g. another great film from danny boyle 5 stars
1/18/09 DJ This Idiot Critic Just Wants Attention 5 stars
1/18/09 zac yea terrible film, let's see, best film Golden Globes,Critic Choice Awards,ETC! 5 stars
1/17/09 Smitty A wonderful love story. Manipulative - yeh - like a Dickens novel and I love to read them. 5 stars
1/16/09 Nick Great movie, loved it, get over your ridiculous pretentions... 5 stars
1/16/09 John Not one character worth caring about. Lucks out and can now buy the unfaithful prostitute. 1 stars
1/16/09 Siva BEST of 2009 5 stars
1/15/09 Jeff Best movie of the year. Original, funny, touching, epic. Should win the Oscar. 5 stars
1/14/09 Ajay K Absurd story-line, phoney love interest 1 stars
1/14/09 Abisha 4 gloden globes, have they gone mad? 1 stars
1/13/09 Louise Involving, colourful, great soundtrack and wonderfully Indian! 5 stars
1/13/09 Rose Very clever how personal experiences resulted in correct answers on TV show. 5 stars
1/10/09 R.W. Welch Jolting look at slum-level life in India. Cleverly plotted. B+ 4 stars
1/09/09 noops.... What westerners want to see abt (poor)India is shown..but A R Rehman's music is awesome... 3 stars
1/09/09 NAC All my friends and family loved it but I did not. The impact of violence was traivialized 3 stars
1/09/09 Stan An okay movie in an era when Hollywood puts out very bad movies. Overhyped? Yes! 3 stars
1/09/09 Rahul S Thanks for a great review. The movie is crap and there are technical flaws aplenty 1 stars
1/09/09 Porter After 1/2 hour of this uber-child abuse film, I up and left! 1 stars
1/07/09 Dana sometimes, suspension of disbelief is needed to appreciate great fiction. lighten up. 5 stars
1/05/09 Lisa Well made, total Hollywood (Bollywood?) cliche. 3 stars
1/05/09 Irv It was manipulative , contrived & quite frankly not well done. 1 stars
1/05/09 Flounder The best picture of the year. It's funny, dramatic, heartbreaking and touching all at once 5 stars
1/04/09 nick clarke Why does a film like this need gentle subtlety? It us a realistic look at India! 5 stars
1/04/09 Waltizzle!!! Completely overrated! Only good after the guy wrote B on the mirror!!! 1 stars
1/02/09 Slamb Thanks for this sensible review. Can't believe so many critics loved it. 2 stars
12/31/08 Robert S Right on. I found it incredibly violent, noisy, nasty, clichéd and overdone. 2 stars
12/31/08 Ashish Biswas As a human and as an Indian, I have loved this film. The critic has balls for brains! 5 stars
12/30/08 Macroniche I agree with a lot of your review, however I lived this film just the same 4 stars
12/30/08 Alex One of the better stories I've ever seen told on film...this critic is clearly a moron. 5 stars
12/29/08 B This review is garbage and doesnt make any sense. Movie is amazing!! 5 stars
12/28/08 Patrick I enjoyed this movie very much. Don't fully agree with this critic. 5 stars
12/28/08 marilyn kruse I read so many rave reviews from the critics, but I was unable to get involved in this. 2 stars
12/28/08 Sonie Best Movie I've seen in years, incredibly uplifting 5 stars
12/28/08 Niki Uh what movie did this guy watch?! this movie was amazing. Rich and so real. Worth ur money 5 stars
12/27/08 Melanie M. Best movie I have seen all year. This critic merely looks for things to be insulting about. 5 stars
12/27/08 fred best film of the year 5 stars
12/27/08 Philip Buckley-Mellor One of the best, and oddly realistic, films I've seen 5 stars
12/27/08 AJ Movie was brilliant! Those who dont buy wats shown, visit india, people like Fagin do exist 5 stars
12/26/08 Grace I loved it and thought it was one of the better movies I've seen in a while. 5 stars
12/26/08 Monica I suppose, technically, the reviewer is right. But see it anyways. 4 stars
12/26/08 Mrs. Mom Powerful, interesting, exciting, what more do you want from a film? 5 stars
12/25/08 ROBO I'm a cynic, but I thought this was one terrific movie, best I've seen this year! 5 stars
12/24/08 June totally agree with reviewer...made me anxious and depressed. too mch violence. 3 stars
12/22/08 Houston Ignore the review, go see this movie. It is incredibly interesting and entertaining. 5 stars
12/22/08 Suresh The critic's views are easier to agree if you've seen movies like Salaam Bombay. 3 stars
12/22/08 Karan Puri Another Black & White, stereotypical prtrayal of life in India. Tragic that people buy it. 2 stars
12/20/08 Lawrence This critic takes himself way too seriously. 5 stars
12/20/08 John Back Totally agree-an Indian fairy tale w/violent plot. 2 stars
12/13/08 Mike Gimmicky garbage, I didn't buy any of it. 2 stars
12/11/08 Suzz Very good film with an interesting narrative style. 4 stars
12/11/08 nl The film is good, I enjoyed it. Worth paying for. But, completely agree with the review. 4 stars
12/10/08 Bob Excellent movie, totally worth seeing. Although might be a bit overpraised . . . 4 stars
12/09/08 Jenny Latica was NOT about to lose her virginity, she was having dance lessons!!?? 3 stars
12/08/08 Kacie Exactly right. Flashiness can't hide a sentimental, uninspired love story. 3 stars
12/07/08 dyli Just saw the movie. His review makes complete sense. 4 stars
12/07/08 mpdesign Don't listen to this man or you will miss a great movie 5 stars
12/06/08 Robert Anyone who reads this review should simply disregard it and go see the movie. 5 stars
12/06/08 Igor This guy was watching a different movie. Perfect example of disagreeing for the sake of it. 5 stars
12/05/08 Faye wrong...GREAT MOVIE...gee, don't know what movie could get a 5 star from this person 5 stars
11/14/08 gaurav mittal good 5 stars
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  12-Nov-2008 (R)
  DVD: 31-Mar-2009


  DVD: 31-Mar-2009

Directed by
  Danny Boyle

Written by
  Simon Beaufoy

  Dev Patel
  Anil Kapoor
  Irfan Khan
  Freida Pinto

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