Monday, January 05, 2009
The poster above would have SO put me off, but Danny Boyle's latest offering turned out to be one of the most enjoyable films I've seen since starting this blog back in 2003.
It may have the most exhilarating musical ensemble ending since Zatoichi, but the first half hour of the "feel good film of the decade" features extended scenes of torture, a child being blinded with acid and another taking a dip in a pool of shit. Indeed, while the underlying structure is a traditional rags-to-riches fairytale, fans of films like Bride and Prejudice will probably be getting a far grittier portrait of modern India than they might have expected. So gritty in fact I could just imagine the groans of those poor beleaguered folk at the Mumbai Tourist Office...
The conceit of Vikas Swarup's novel is that a call centre assistant called Jamal is under interrogation by some rather unpolished officers of the law, having got to within one question of winning the big prize on India's version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? The cops assume he has cheated; a 'slumdog' couldn't possibly know all the answers. But by cutting back to excerpts from the show and from Jamal's life experiences in the 'real India', we begin to see how 'it is written' that he will get both the money, and the girl.
V did make me laugh though when she noted that Jamal had clearly failed to turn up at the railway station at the end with a suitcase full of Rupees and that "where's the bloody money?" would have been the most appropriate line at that point from Latika (The movie's love interest, who hails from Mumbai, and not in fact Costa Rica!)
I can't imagine that there will be many better movies in 2009.