slumdog millionaire

is the best film of 2008.   jay has been resisting the buzz around it.    the advertised premises of the movie – “a poor kid gets rich” and “it’s about love, not the money” – sound sacherine.

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but danny boyle’s movie about 18-year-old jamal, a “chai-wallah” (the guy who delivers tea to office workers in mumbai), is  told mostly through his flashbacks while he’s being tortured by the police.     you see, jamal is a contestant on the popular indian game show “who wants to be a millionaire?” and when he starts winning, the host of the show has him hauled in for cheating.   how could an uneducated kid from the slums know anything?

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jay, the game show host and the police are all correct in their skepticism.    this could have been a schlock-fest.   but the gritty realism and danny bolye’s signature frenetic pace make this the most accurate film-portrayal of contemporary mumbai i’ve seen.  you can’t imagine brutal like the life of a kid in the slums of india.   scenes in this film are wrenching.  but boyle has fun with us too, including a redux of the mortifying scene in the pub toilet from “trainspotting” and a toe-tapping bollywood number when the credits roll.

the film keeps telling us that it’s about destiny, but it’s really about something that’s easier to believe in —  hope — something just about everyone is ready to buy into at the moment.

i haven’t seen all of the films that came out in 2008 yet, so it’s possible i’ll like something better.    i can’t imagine i will.    this one is not to be missed and ought to be seen on a large screen.

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