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.