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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Mia Drake
Anil Kapoor
Irfan Khan
Dev Patel
Freida Pinto.
Directors
Danny Boyle.
Screenwriters
Simon Beaufoy.
Running Time
120 minutes

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Slumdog Millionaire
Is Danny Boyle’s new film a) ace, b) ace, c) ace, or d) excellent?


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Plot
When the unlikely Jamal (Patel) gets through round-upon-round of India’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, he is arrested for cheating. During the interrogation, as he tells his tragic life story, it seems fate may be calling the shots...


Review
Slumdog Millionaire
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Danny Boyle, you may recall, was all but canonised for propelling a gang of heroin-abusing scamps through the seething backstreets of Edinburgh to the unearthly rumble of Iggy Pop’s basalt lungs. Amid Trainspotting’s amoral characters and Scorsesian visual rhetoric, the camera an urgent, unpredictable participant in its dramatic shimmer, something unforgettable was born. Sadly, while we banged drums and rattled tambourines like Hari Krishnas
on the march, it didn’t prove the revolution in British filmmaking, indeed all filmmaking, we had yearned for. Boyle went off to make good films, interesting films, but the dervish in him laid dormant.

How strange, then, that it would take a contemporary fable set among the roiling slums of Mumbai, and, more bizarrely, on India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, to reignite that lust for life...

At first sight, this adaptation of Vikas Swarup’s novel, Q&A, sounds as ripe as a watermelon: a rags-to-riches parable of a lowly urchin, luckless but streetwise, whose quiz show triumph enthralls a nation. Dreamily his inspiration is not the worldly promise of a “fucking big television”, but the chance to rescue the loveliest girl in the world. The question is, how has this ignorant chai-wallah gotten so far? The answer is the film itself.

Like the picaresque of Trainspotting, Simon Beaufoy’s feisty script is knowingly contrived. Between the comic tensions of the Millionaire rounds — veteran Anil Kapoor sneering splendidly as the Indian Tarrant — we plunge back in time in search of a life. The effect is less flashbacks than a cascade of stories transporting Jamal (Dev Patel) and his sneaky brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) from infants to boys, to teens, to the brink of riches. Could destiny itself have given him the answers? Knowledge, the film fancies, isn’t learned; it is survived.

The key to early Boyle was that he was actually doing Dickens’ Gothic underworlds jacked up on Underworld. If Shallow Grave is A Christmas Carol, where the three ghosts becomes a trio of solipsistic flatmates, then Trainspotting is David Copperfield, the callow hero hindered less by poverty than the raging urge for hard drugs. Slumdog repaints Oliver Twist in the fruit-bowl palette of an India where orphans are scooped off midnight’s streets by a dapper Fagin to be trained as beggars, later to give Jamal his Great Expectations and a cool Estella in the form of Latika (Freida Pinto: easily the most beautiful thing you will see on a screen in 2009).

Jamal is, of course, accused of cheating (how could it be otherwise?), and before we’ve even acclimatised, the police are making their enquires with the help of a car battery. Get ready — there will be as much discomfort as joy. Later, the camera barely blinks as a child’s eyes are put out with a molten-spoon. Yet, by Boyle’s law, for every degradation there is an equal and opposite celebration, or at least cackle of loud, local humour.

Through the ever-seeking direction, and Anthony Dod Mantle’s unstoppable camera, Mumbai becomes the inevitable ‘other’ character, mother to 15 million. This, we find, is a city in transition, where call centres and fucking-big televisions leer over street-lepers and Hindu shrines. The caste system has gone vertical, up the cathedral-like skyscrapers with the slumdogs at their feet.

Yes, it’s tapping Scorsese again in the fevered montages that dance to the infectious rhythms of A. R. Rahman’s East-West spanning score, and that sense of being constantly in motion. But strip away the arty dissolves and handheld chases through Mumbai’s clutter, and you’ll find something divisively old-fashioned.

At heart, this is Hollywood melodrama, Capra’s wish-fulfilment parlayed into a new world (that Jamal is an Indian Muslim rarely impacts). The film, fashion be damned, is just thrillingly upbeat.


Extras

Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire
Released: 01 June 2009
Even Slumdog’s deleted scenes reek of quality. The best of the bunch reinstates a whole question and answer — it also reinforces just why Millionaire host Prem (Anil Kapoor) has it in for Jamal. The cut segment also adds more to the scene of Jamal watching the Orpheus opera, sees the three kids run amok in the Tulip Hotel and features a delightful little scene in which the boys laugh at Latika in a yellow dress.Of the two commentaries, Boyle and Patel’s is the sparkier, revealing filmmaking know-how (yellow is always associated with Latika — see above), behind-the-scenes titbits — the dung young Jamal is covered in is peanut butter and chocolate; Boyle’s initial disappointment that M. I. A.’s Paper Planes turned up in a Pineapple Express trailer — and fun banter, especially around the number of times Patel gets slapped.A second commentary with Beaufoy and producer Christian Colson is also informative — who knew that a Hatfield test screening changed the ending? — but often gets caught up in admiring Boyle’s handiwork. Elsewhere, a decent featurette covers all the bases (Boyle bigs up co-director Loveleen Tandan), and for those who haven’t got time to sit through the entire film, a three-minute cut-down version to the Jai Ho tune does a very good job at hitting all the memorable bits.


Verdict
Danny Boyle’s finest since Trainspotting. In fact, it’s the best British/Indian gameshow-based romance of the millennium.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Slumdog Millionaire
Empire Star Rating

Slumdog Millionaire

Us Americans and English will never quite know if Slumdog Millionaire is culturally accurate. But it doesn't really matter. It's effective, beautiful, and epic. Danny Boyle has created a modern fairy tale that will resonate with cinema for ages to come. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 20:00, 13 October 2012 | Report This Post


Slumdog Millionaire Review

Visually dazzling and emotionally resonant, Slumdog Millionaire is a film that's both entertaining and powerful. It deserved every single award it received. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 22:46, 03 March 2012 | Report This Post


Powerful and emotional entertainment

Slumdog succeeds in being powerful, thought provoking and visually stunning whilst remaining entertaining and compelling drama. That and the story itself is so clever. Its awards are definitely justified and deserved for sure. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 20:01, 30 August 2011 | Report This Post


Well Made Film

Danny Boyle haas already proven himself as worthy director, with superb directorial efforts Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and 28 Days Later. Slumdog Millionaire is no exception. Creating a believably dog eat dog world and a freeform narrative that is always interesting and a joy to watch, no matter how toe curling the scene may be. All the actors do a great job, and Danny Boyle has proved himself a force to be reckoned with all over again ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 11:43, 09 March 2011 | Report This Post


Hugely Offensive film

A star for Danny Boyle's flawless direction BUT I am really offended by this poor bollywood lite depiction of India to the world in which we all live in slums and are poor but we're happy as long as we dance, have ridiculous versions of your gameshows and hey India and poverty are synonmous. Heavily stereotyped movie that is almost unimaginable it won oscars, the same academy that saw the brilliance of Ghandi do this!! This is Racist and I'm ashamed of Empire for not realizing how hurtful a f... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Senton at 14:13, 06 January 2011 | Report This Post


Emotional filmmaking

Before you jump on the five star rating - this is no masterpiece. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it simply isn't. One of the best of the year, sure, but not THE best. Slumdog Millionaire gets top marks because it simply gets to you. Not in the way a war film does, though. This film is wonderful because - I can't really say. I don't know how. It must be that the writing is exceptional: you will live the film together with the characters. Dev Patel and Freida Pinto are this year's most promising... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 21:11, 07 April 2010 | Report This Post


Much better than the guy who grows younger

I saw this movie and thought it was great and then i bought the book,the book is way better,completely different storyline,Latika isn't even in it,I thought Danny's storyline and flashbacks were very good and extremely inventive but Vikas Swarup's(the author)story was much better with twists and turns all through it,I could barely leave it down for more then five minutes.So,although the book was much better,I still think this is a fantastic film and did deserve best pic for sure,I don't get why ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnPaul1996 at 19:42, 08 March 2010 | Report This Post


I enjoyed this film, but believe it was hardly worthy of 8 oscars and is overrated by many. Good turns from the central characters but i didnt see enough to seperate it and rise it above some other films from the same year ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gregmeister11 at 15:18, 05 March 2010 | Report This Post


DANNY DOYLE MAKES SHIT FILMS

Thats all I have to say. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 00:08, 14 January 2010 | Report This Post


Entertaining but overrated

There isn't much that hasn't already been said about this film. I don't think that its a 5 star classic as the film's plot is a bit tedious in places although clearly India is a stupendous backdrop for it. Still a very good movie worth watching just to see what the fuss was about. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Francis46 at 12:17, 09 January 2010 | Report This Post


Eceptional Piece Of Film-making

I usually avoid oscar-winners like the plague, they're normally boring, underwhelming and really quite shite affairs. So I put this in the DVD player not expecting alot to be honest and was genuinely surprised at what I got. Simply put; I thought this was an exceptional, visually stunning piece of film-making. Brillantly acted and beautifully told. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CIRVIRUS64 at 11:46, 09 November 2009 | Report This Post


8 Oscars?!....Really?!!! Just 1 Was Deserved.

All the credit should go to Danny Boyle, hes been unappreciated for years and his Awards were all deserved. But as far as the film goes what a enormous overhyped let down. Feelgood hit of the decade? I don't think I was watching the same film as everyone else. Watch "Millions" instead. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PaulJohn at 13:23, 08 October 2009 | Report This Post


Though I also think that it's a really good movie, I wouldn't have given it all the Oscars it got. Benjamin Button and The Reader made a bigger impression on me. And Bollywood dancing at the end was absolutely unneccesery... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FanaticalAboutFilm at 18:31, 26 September 2009 | Report This Post


Credible, but did it truly deserve the Academy Award for Best Picture? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vermin101 at 08:18, 10 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Slumdog Millionaire

Watched this last night. Hmmm. It had a lot of impressive elements, but ultimately I'm not sure it really rang true. ... More

Posted by Tank Boy at 16:05, 21 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Slumdog Millionaire

The editing, digital cinematography and oylection with co-director n Tandan a fascinating aesthetic which is perfect for the material. Millionairey tasteful in almost every respect. The romance scenes are either beautifully understated, most of the scenes with them as children/young teenagers and a couple after that or fantasy melodrama like much of the stuff near the end of the movie, although the actual final pre-credit shot itself is again, a tender and beautiful moment. Even the very reali... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gwilthyunman at 15:17, 21 August 2009 | Report This Post


refreshing, thoughtful and original

something new and refreshing. an interesting take on a story about life and about love. i can see why it received so much credit. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by WhiteRabbit23 at 20:35, 10 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: skeletonjack Having missed this at the cinema I finally caught it on Blu Ray the other night. Now maybe it was due to the glowing reviews, the hype, or the multiple Oscars this received, but I came away from it feeling rather underwhelmed. Yes it's good, but Best Film material? Not a chance. I had such high expectations for this and sadly it rarely delivered for me. Massively over-rated, shame really. 3 stars lad i'm not the only one. Thought the soundtrack was ace tho! ... More

Posted by KennyM at 11:01, 23 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Slumdog Millionaire

Excellent picture and songs , won an oscar award for one of the song fron the movie. Music by the great AR Rehman. ... More

Posted by Jones S at 07:34, 23 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Obviously you'd have to be totally on another planet to completely avoid the hype around this film. So, maybe it was that which left me feeling totally underwhelmed with this film. In the first place I didn't get time to see it at the cinema, that's the first indication for me that it's not one of those 'up there' movies for me. Second, it took me a week to actually sit down and watch it when I got the DVD. Whilst it was okay, I'm not sure it's the film it was made out to be. I liked it - but n... More

Posted by CAD36 at 10:31, 19 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Having missed this at the cinema I finally caught it on Blu Ray the other night. Now maybe it was due to the glowing reviews, the hype, or the multiple Oscars this received, but I came away from it feeling rather underwhelmed. Yes it's good, but Best Film material? Not a chance. I had such high expectations for this and sadly it rarely delivered for me. Massively over-rated, shame really. 3 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 22:10, 08 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Nice to see the positive reviews.....and negative ones too. I love my blu ray edition. Great commentary.....just a great time. You gotta love Danny Boyle. In his commentary he sorta points out a huge continuation problem he overlooked in a major scene. ... More

Posted by wgamador at 15:25, 12 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE:

Top drawer stuff from Britains own auter Danny Boyle . Everthing here is great from the young cast to Anthony Dod Mantles Camera work. Simon Beaufoys Script is packed full of great lines and you feel  moved in all the right places and it does not feel phony or forced.   9.5/10 ... More

Posted by filmburner30 at 13:00, 11 June 2009 | Report This Post


Original, funny, moving, gritty, well just pretty much everything most Hollywood blockbusters aren't these days Danny Boyle does it again! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by midnightrambler1 at 20:40, 06 June 2009 | Report This Post


Great Film, but not a Best Picture

The score was amazing, and the performances were solid, but it wasn't as brilliant as I expected it to be. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MovieAddict247 at 18:08, 06 June 2009 | Report This Post


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