I had to stop writing this blog temporarily for personal reasons but now I am back and raring to go. I hope people will read this and comment on my blog entries!
The first of which is a movie review. This is something I have not done before and must admit to being more of a reader than a moviegoer (although, ironically, that is the title of one of my favourite books). This film was so wonderful, though, that I felt an overwhelming need to sing its praises.
Although Danny Boyle's film is based on a true story, it is likely that the events are only loosely based on the real Jamal Malik's experiences. However, the film manages to capture the reality of living in a slum in Mumbai, with all the poverty, prejudice and violence faced by the 'Slumdogs'.
Boyle also brings with him the energy and verve seen in previous films (such as Trainspotting where he turned a mediocre book into an excellent movie and the excellent 28 Days/Weeks Later). He has kept the high tempo music and quick moving photography throughout, creating a film that is both stylistically polished and deeply moving.
The childhood scenes are particularly moving, with the full depravity of the slums shown and how a gangster called Maman, masquerading as a good samaritan, takes Jamal and his brother in and uses them as child beggars. They witness other orphans being blinded and disfigured and taught to sing in order to make more money begging.
However, the heart of this film is a love story between Jamal and Latika. Latika is loved by Jamal from when they were kids and Jamal loses her three times in the film: once to Maman, once to his tainted brother and finally, and most movingly at a train station as she agrees to escape with Jamal, only to be recaptured by his brother and his brother's odious gangster boss. Jamal's love for Latika ensures that he finds her each time, until the train station when she is whisked away.
Jamal still finds her. Knowing that she watches Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, hoping for escape, he himself hopes to again connect with her.
The majority of the film is set in a police station after the morally corrupt gameshow host (Anil Kapoor) ensures Jamal is arrested, believing he must be a cheat because he is a Slumdog. Following torture and interrogation the police inspector eventually realises that Jamal is not only telling the truth, but that his remarkable life story has helped him to answer the questions in the show. However, what the inspector realises most of all, though, is that Jamal is not interested in money, only in Latika and connecting with her again. Dev Patel is excellent, managing to demonstrate both innocence and determination, as Jamal seeks to once again find his lost love.
The fact that the ending (complete with a Bollywood style sequence during the credits) ends with Jamal winning both the money and the girl does not mean that the film loses its integrity. Indeed this film could only have finished happily, celebrating the best parts of India and humanity as a whole. This is is a story that is comparable to Romeo & Juliet, but the lovers go through enough to deserve the ending of a comedy.
I strongly recommend this film and think it is certainly a dark horse for Best Movie at the Oscars. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Monday, 5 January 2009