1. I think you have to consider Mumbai as the fourth character in the movie in order to view the film in the best light. It has all the qualifications of a character: it changes, it contributes to the action: the death of the mother, the hindu/muslim conflict, the rising skyline and growth of organized crime . . .
2. Yes, the storytelling device is far fetched - getting on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and then knowing all the questions - but who cares? It was superfluous to the main story which is a story about two brothers and a woman. To me the story is fascinating because if one brother had not been "bad" it would not have been possible for the other brother to be "good". When you are a homeless orphan trying to eat, what moral code could possibly apply besides get food and stay alive? And if the elder brother had not shot the Fagin character, would any of the characters survived or been free? These sorts of complexities make a good film.
3. Another thing that the movie was about was the relationship between the host of the show and Dev as a way to explore emerging class systems. No matter where you are, it is the group who has most recently escaped poverty trying to keep the poor out of their middle class - I think that Dev and the host were almost symbols there (perhaps the host can be contrasted with the police chief who lets Dev out??)
4. I think it was a better movie than you thought it was but I didn't think it was as good as Frost/Nixon or Milk. But I was very encouraged by the Academy's response to Slumdog - Americans are getting more global. So yay for that.
I agree with everything you said. Yes, Mumbai as a character. Definitely. Place should always be a character. We are overbuilding our way out of character of place. Now, Downtown Chicago - as a friend of mine so beautifully described it - has no "noir" to it anymore. Too often I see plays that don't have a sense of place either written in or acted by the players.
You wrote: "Yes, the storytelling device is far fetched - getting on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and then knowing all the questions - but who cares?" I was one who did. Maybe the only one in the world! but I had problems with the movie before that.
By now everyone has seen it, I am sure, but when the little boy did what he did to see the movie star, I stopped buying it right there. Some may say, "It showed how desperate the child was." Me, I felt it was an unclever "set-up." And the swill on him was all one color! It looked fake to me. (As an actor, I've polished a lot of shit in my time.)
"No matter where you are, it is the group who has most recently escaped poverty trying to keep the poor out of their middle class." Yes, the game show host was absolutely excellent. Wonderful job. As they all did a wonderful job.
Credit goes to Danny Boyle mentioning he FORGOT to put the dance at the end choreographers name in the credits! (Of course I am sure it was in the choreographer's contract as well.) The only part of the movie I fell in love with!
"I think it was a better movie than you thought it was but I didn't think it was as good as Frost/Nixon or Milk." Milk - superb. Frost/Nixon - Superb.
However for my redemption, look under this thread for the short review I wrote of "MAN ON WIRE" (along a with Tony Bennett concert) which won best documentary this year. As they were about to open the envelope I said to my wife, "It will win if everyone voting realizes the planning, devotion, disappointment, suffering and lifelong commitment to a goal greater than ourselves."
So I went to see the movie that everyone and I mean everyone I know, is talking about. Correction. Everyone is raving about Slum Dog... Like in media res., I too was disappointed. It was good, yes, but not outstanding - IMHO - as is the opinion of most people I know who have seen it.
Rather than repeat what has already been written, let me just say (or write) simply that it just didn't "grab" me. What really bothered me, though, and it might seem trite given the excellent critiques offered, was the musical score. Don't get me wrong - I loved the music if this was a musical film with a story line being secondary to dancing and singing. But it wasn't. It was a drama with violent sequences and the music detracted from the visuals. At least it did for me. There were times that I was actually restless and glanced at my watch. Never a good sign.
I too loved the closing musical sequence and would have been happy to see more. Somehow, though, it seemed strangely out of place as if it had been tagged on.
I'm not going to watch this movie until the houses for the children are built. I read that two of the children in the movie were still living in the slums. Some European journalist went their and found the family. Then the Indian gov. stepped and said they would give the two families a house.
The Movie people said they were going to build them, but the few $$$$$$$ the families got from the movie has all been spent.
Seems that the outcry from the public regarding the fate of the child stars has resulted in them receiving a new home.
"Indian government authorities are providing new residences in Mumbai for Rubina Ali and Azhar Ismail, who portrayed the younger versions of the movie's central characters, and Latika and Salim, Reuters reports."
Few movies strike me as so all of a piece as Slumdog Millionaire, and I can't quite see how you can cherry-pick and say there are marvelous things in it but they add up to a big lie. The dance-video ending isn't stand-alone, it subtly reprises the opening scene in which the slum children run with glee along the knife edge of peril. The way the story develops is the work of the filmmakers and the novelist whose work this was originally, but the newspaper story it's based on is factual. The ending is as grim on one level and joyous on another as anything that led up to it; and the irony and sophistication of its reading of class, exploitation and the easy cohabitation of gangsterism and the global economy strikes me as impeccable. (Seriously, did Brecht ever come up with an image as symbolically charged as Salim's death in a bathtub full of paper bills?)
I loved Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later." Had me on the edge of my seat. Or rather cringing to the back of my seat! Just could not buy into Slumdog.
There are movies I have seen where I like everything but the movie itself. I think that is a valid concept. Sort of like a buffet meal. Or it could be any served meal. Somehow all the elements are individually displayed before me, each one tastes great, but they never come together as one terrific, memorable meal that satisfies. Just as I mentioned about JUNO.
You usually give my fingers a rest as I nod in agreement to most everything you say! I've got a strong neck by this point so I'll give my little typing monsters a chance...
It seems like most of the posters are agreeing with you but I have to disagree, I liked Slum Dog Millionaire.
I'm right there with you on realism. It has to feel or be plausible to me and often times I'll be analyzing the physics behind some effect in a movie, realize it's not possible and now they've lost me. This happens a lot with military characters, being in the service has enlightened me to actors doing things wrong from saluting to reacting. In this regard, the TV show 24 bugs the HELL out of me. And yes it entertains the hell out of millions of Americans, so I know my place!
Still, whether I suspended reality enough for the situation or not, SDM worked for me. I bought into it as if the setup's narrator seemed to set the feel of a legend more than a tall tale. They encircled it with enough mystery to allow me to make the leap on leapable points.
Your 'jumping in the poop' argument is interesting. I for one, am glad the poop wasn't more realistic, though I think one could argue that poop is not the same on every continent. This concept will probably earn a large gov grant and a wiki page.
In the end the whole movie isn't plausible as reality tv, but as the legend of jamal, a kid from the slums, hey why not. (SPOILER ALERT: latest Indiana Jones)To me, as a legend it was a lot more plausible than the cheap alien cop-out that was rented in the latest Indiana Jones. Just how did those skulls get removed in the first place?
So I digress, I enjoyed the movie, enjoyed it's deep underlying messages and morals, and actually predicted the ending. I suppose I would have enjoyed it more had I been suprised (many people were) but I guess I'm just complimenting myself.
My last remark is what was my lasting impression, the Host of India's Millionaire program saying "Who wants to be a Mil-yonaire?" in that awesome accent.
"You usually give my fingers a rest as I nod in agreement to most everything you say."
You give my words far too much credit. But thanks. I guess that means you are as crazy as I am!
You wrote: "I for one, am glad the poop wasn't more realistic, though I think one could argue that poop is not the same on every continent. This concept will probably earn a large gov grant and a wiki page."
I LOL at that! Very funny.
Why not pay for a study? Hey, the - I mean OUR - Stimulus Package is probably just a bunch of poop, anyway!
Thanks for posting your comments. It is interesting to see the varied responses. And as I said, the game show host was great.
Neat to see all the comments about a highly successful movie.
What I found most intriguing, however, was that structurally the story's protagonist was not the younger brother who wins -- it was the older brother story.
This was a story about how the older brother learns (at last) to not simply serve himself - but sacrifice in order to allow the happiness of others.
If you look at the structure that defines plot and subplot - where any choice made by the main character will be shown - and events of the subplot and supporting cast are unseen until relevant to the main plot - then it is clearly the older brother's story.
We don't ever see the younger brother choose to go on the game show - his choice is implied - or the younger brother choosing to return to Mumbai - just the brothers returning.
The choices we do watch happen are those involving the older brother - when he chooses to abondon the girl on the train, when he chooses to save his brother from being blinded, when he chooses to take the girl from his younger brother, and when he chooses to allow his brother's happiness.
This is not a rags-to-riches tale - it is a story about learning to put the benefit of others before your own.
It's an interesting structural analysis, and I agree that it's not a rags-to-riches story (even considered as the younger brother's story it isn't, because the money he stands to win is of secondary importance--what he wants is to reach out to the woman he loves). But I think the film has three protagonists. Your analysis at any rate tells against the view of one writer who didn't like the film much, because he said the brother was set up as so evil only by the sacrifice of his life could he be redeemed. I think your reading of the story as his moral education is sounder.
I just saw red dog trailer and it was good. Actually my girl friend saw the red dog movie a couple of days ago and she loved it but needed tissues. A great story about a true Pilbara character, she asked for autograph too and he writes it on her card. I always like the dog movies because the emotion they set between dog and human beings just develop a sentimental connection which anyone would like it.