Is Slumdog Millionaire Really All That?

So, if you watched the Golden Globes last night, you know that the Danny Boyle movie Slumdog Millionaire took home just about all the top awards. Did you guys see it? I did, and I generally liked it, was on the edge of seat throughout (which doesn’t often happen at the movies for me), liked Boyle’s signature fast paced cinematography, the scenery of Mumbai, etc. But I also had some problems with the unreality of it all and am kind of dumbfounded that it got so much blind praise.

For one thing, I found the romance so over-the-top and unbelievable, it really kind of ruined the whole for me. We’re not really supposed to believe that he could have found his girl, and she’d still be there for him, after all those years, right? And if it is supposed to be a bit of magical realism, then I think it kind of undercuts the rest, which is supposed to be brutally realistic, right? Or is it? Do the police in Mumbai really torture a suspect like that, and over whether he cheated on a game show? I thought initially his torturers were mafia, but, according to the story, they were just plain old police, who became his friends later on. And there was so much suffering — the Christian mobs brutally murdering the Muslims, the gangs of organized kidnappers gouging out the eyes of the children before using them to make money, the selling into slavery. It was all so horrid. But then given the outrageous love-story plot and then

that dance scene at the end (that made it look like something out of Center Stage or Step Up or some totally different kind of film), I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to believe it all fully. Anthony Lane is just about the only film critic who seemed to be at all critical. And he took a lot of rotten tomatoes for it.

One of my Facebook friends voiced his dislike of the film in his status update and a rather lengthy discussion ensued (a lot of discussions are taking place in Facebook status update threads these days!) and someone responded, “I thought it was a tricky mix of excruciating and uplifting, realism and fantasy, with the balance was maintained…” So I guess some people were able to believe in the world the film created. I don’t know, didn’t completely work for me, though, as I said, I’m glad I saw it. Shallow Grave is still my favorite of Boyle’s.

Update: After the film won big at the Oscars, Salman Rushdie aired his criticisms.

7 Comments

  1. “romance so over-the-top and unbelievable,”

    Aren't most movie romances :) I haven't seen it… I kind of want to but I will probably rent it as, movies are so freakin' expansive. There hasn't been a lot of movies lately that I really really want to see.. I'll probably rent most of the movies. For this season, I'll save my money for Broadway tours.

    I'm really disappointed that Heath won. Yes he is an amazing actor but his work in The Dark Knight did not whatsoever deserve a Golden Globe or even deserves an Oscar. Now Christian Bale or Aaron Eckhart Yes, but Heath no.

  2. Nothing like a whole lot of hoopla to make you feel “different” if you happen not to agree. This is the case with Slumdog. I did not find it “uplifting” and “joyful” at all. I was dismayed at the violence perpertrated against children and women. How is gouging a kids eyes out to make him a more pitiful begger upllifting? How is slashing a woman's face and forcing her into a llife of prostitution joyful? No my friend, this is not a movie I would laud or reccomend to anyone. Once again, what's wrong with me?

  3. Uh. . . Christian mobs?

  4. The film portraits current India quite accurately. My wife is from India, and she said it was not an exaggeration. BTW, it was not christian, but hindus that killed his mother.

  5. As was mentioned previously, over the top romances in film are to be expected for the most part. Aside from that though, there's many issues you missed or took for granted. First, they were Hindu mobs, not Christian. Second, organized kidnapping and mutilation are commonplace in many countries (Google “begging mafia”). I'm not sure where anyone was sold into slavery, but it too is a reality of life. Also, the police in India will torture you, so there was no real surprise there. Finally, the final dance scene was a nod to Bollywood cinema and I don't believe it should be considered a part of the film itself but a part of the credits. Anyway, I think the movie gives a very realistic depiction of India in the past 20 years and still intertwines it with a beautiful, if a little over the top, love story.

  6. Good music,Good story and Good cast and crew. But i request you to watch it with an open mind.
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  7. Good music,Good story and Good cast and crew. But i request you to watch it with an open mind.
    masini de inchiriat

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