Tuesday, March 10, 2009


"Slumdog," which swept the major categories at the Academy Awards, fascinates on a number of levels. Is it a drama? Is it a fantasy? Is it a musical?


The editing, cinematography, and music (by M.I.A. and A.R. Rahman) all shine. Then there's the fresh-faced cast of unknowns from another land that seems to have captured America's fancy in true Beatle-esque fashion. Then we have the rags-to-riches plot.

Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is an orphan who, through an improbable twist of fate, finds himself a contestant on India's version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Through a series of amazing coincidences, he has LIVED the answers to the questions that are being posed to him on the show. (This is where your "willing suspension of disbelief" will come in handy.) The momentum builds as Malik embarks on a harrowing damsel-in-distress search for his childhood friend while running afoul of the smarmy game show host and the authorities who aren't convinced he's legitimately coming up with the correct answers.

The film builds to a fist pumping climax that gave me goose bumps and made me feel the same way I felt the first time I saw Rocky. And frankly, with the current state of the economy and Rush Limbaugh bellowing that he wants Barack Obama to fail, we could use more films like this one that connect us with the indomitable human spirit.


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