Slumdog Millionaire (in theaters this month), which tells the tale of two brothers growing up in the slums of India, is framed by the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The younger brother, Jamal Malik, now a teenager, is accused of cheating on the show, and he recounts the story of his horrible childhood in order to prove his innocence. The film unfolds with the sprawling grandeur of an Indian epic in order to answer one simple question that is posed at the very beginning:
Jamal Malik is one question away from winning 20 million rupees. How did he do it?But director Danny Boyle, who's spent most of his filmmaking career showing you how fucking cool he is (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine), has fashioned, above all else (and against all odds), a love story. Most everything that drives Jamal is his pursuit of a girl, and even his appearance on the game show is a stunt to reach out to her. While one would think that millions of rupees would completely change a man who grew up in poverty, Jamal finds nothing more transformative than the power of love. You might find that message overly sentimental, but Danny Boyle wraps it in shit to make it go down easy:
A. He cheated
B. He's lucky
C. He's a genius
D. It is written
(The trailer uses "It is destiny" as the "D" answer, but the final cut of the movie uses the much more elegant "It is written.")
I should also mention that Slumdog Millionaire may very well have the best soundtrack of the year. If you don't walk out of the theater wanting to do a Bollywood dance, then there's something seriously wrong with you.