Sunday, January 18, 2009
At first I resisted liking the movie, Slumdog Millionaire. But, in this case, resistance was futile. It just seemed so contrived on the first viewing, though I appreciated seeing the slum that was like nothing I had seen before. From the director of Trainspotting (a movie I liked, though I remember it only a little), Slumdog Millionaire seemed like British style movie-making transposed onto an Indian setting. The film shots are stylish. The music is hip. And what’s wrong with that?
Nothing, except when it obscures authenticity. Yet, doesn’t it seem silly to see a film desiring a real experience (like I was apparently doing)? But, I do go to movies looking for a taste of something outside my ordinary realm of experience. And I can leave feeling fulfilled, as if I have visited somewhere else, almost as if I had been someone else. There have even been times when I’ve needed a little reentry time to get used to being myself again after a particularly absorbing film. This was not one of those times. The style did get in the way for me.
But even though I wasn’t able to totally loose myself in this film, it did give me a rush. And the second time I saw it I cried during the dance sequence at the end. I think it was out of relief for a break from the relentless love, determination and violence the film presents up to then.
I like the fearlessness of the character, Jamal. From the very beginning he and his brother show absolute fearlessness when going through their world, except in a funny shot with their mother. They might fool and outrun everyone else, but not Mom.
And the setup of the movie shows that all the events in his life have given him the tools to win on the TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It strikes me as crass that a life’s mystery might be devoted to solving a television game show. But of course it’s all in the name of love. And it makes a tidy little package that keeps the film moving at an almost bewildering pace. (So this isn’t a rave review.) Okay, it’s contrived!
But don’t you want to make life make sense? I feel pulled to make sense of it all. And so it is satisfying on some level to see Jamal’s life unfold around a challenge that he’s chosen for himself. I’d like to think that my life would be able to reveal the answers that would help me succeed in what I choose to do. And maybe it can. I don’t know.