“Slumdog” Jamal who grew up on the streets of Bombay is at the brink of winning the grand prize of India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire when he is “questioned” by a policeman who suspects fraud.
Danny Boyle’s latest and highly acclaimed project has a lot of the energy that marked his debut. The clever structure of the film uses his explanations on how he knew the answers to fill in the background of what life is like for the most impoverished members of Indian society, brutalised in religious riots, either ignored or harassed by the authorities and exploited by criminals. In this way it’s like a more lighthearted and less violent version of City Of God and has a modicum of the power and grittiness of that film. Some of the more disturbing aspects of what these children endure was made more so by the fact that I watched this film in the company of an Indian person who assured me that these practices actually still exist – and in fact were even toned down for the film. The entire cast are excellent, even the youngest of the children playing younger versions of the protagonists and the mix of comedy, action and drama is balanced perfectly. Unfortunately the film’s strength and depth of character falters during the last reel. Blaming walloping great plot contrivances on “fate” just seemed lazy and the crowd pleasing ending felt a little hollow to me, marring what otherwise was an excellent film.
The rest of the story is certainly strong enough to make up for this minor flaw however, and for me this is easily Boyle’s best work since Trainspotting.