Director: Danny Boyle & Loveleen TandanRating: 4.5 out of 5
In a nutshell: Beautiful and magical
To see Dev Patel - or Anwar from Skins - take up such a serious role and pull it off as brilliantly as he did on 'Slumdog Millionaire,' I feel a certain discomfort to how his acting talents were never fully on show on Skins.
This is one of the most beautifully-shot film you'll ever see, sprawling across India yet confined to flashbacks of a 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' contestant. The whole film feels like a modern fairy-tale. And this is a fairy-tale, revolving around the concept of destiny and undying love. Focusing on the grit of Indian life, of hardships in the slums and the will of humanity to survive in such conditions, it shows a side of India that some people will find hard to swallow.
The visual tone of the film is a hybrid mixture of gritty-realism and colourful optimism. The camera work is brilliant, every angle is carefully chosen to represent a chaotic, growing city that's developing so quickly that part of it gets left behind.
The music and score is top-notch as well, featuring Bollywood's very own A.R. Rahman and M.I.A., a British citizen of Sri Lankan descent. "O... Saya," a collaboration between the two, is a powerful piece of music, and has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Song In A Motion Picture (along with the song "Jai-Ho," which is the song for the dance scene at the end). "Paper Planes," one of my favourite M.I.A. tracks for quite a while, fits well in the train montage, even foreshadowing into what kind of life the two brothers will go through in growing up with sounds of gunshots and the clink of money.
M.I.A. - Paper Planes (from her brilliant album, 'Kala' and the film, 'Slumdog Millionaire')
The plot centres around destiny. It starts with Jamal (Dev Patel) being questioned and tortured under suspicion of fraud after being one question away from winning 20,000,000 Rupees on the Indian version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.' Then as Jamal explains to the police how he knows the answers, we are treated to flashbacks of Jamal's life from his childhood with his brother, Salim, in the slums to his search for his true love, Latika (Freida Pinto).
The whole film unravels at such a frantic pace yet gives us time to relish every single moment of it. This is a good start to the year 2009. The rest will find it hard to match, let alone better, the quality of this film.
Over and out
Now playing: A.R. Rahman & M.I.A. - O...Saya