Saturday, 10 September 2011

Slumdog Millionaire: Best Picture? Not at all.

Aside from the Harry Potter franchise, Slumdog Millionaire is probably the most talked about film of the decade 2000-2010. Cleaning up at the Oscars and it's global acclaim, I was expecting a lot from the film, and unfortunately I was disappointed. The directing and cinematography, I put my hands up, were highly deserving of their awards. Truly gorgeous lighting, use of colour and the shots used throughout the film were delicious and sumptuous.

One shot that really stood out to me was the first time Latika sees Jamal at the train station- the shot is from Jamal's perspective, therefore we are Jamal, and as the camera zooms in on this beautiful girl looking around for Jamal, the moment she sees him we can see her eyes light up, he smile widen, and the sheer happiness in her face. The fact she is wearing yellow clothing and is surrounded with yellow lighting, for me, was a symbol of how she was the brightness in Jamal's life, she was his light, therefore they dress her in the colour of the sun. That shot is a very intimate and heartwarming shot, and is just one of many gorgeously shot sequences in the film. It is literally a feast for the eyes.

The child performances in the film were outstanding and put the adult actors to shame in actual fact, however I must commend Dev Patel highly on his performance which was very good.
The film however, as far as the plot goes, loses itself when Jamal is an adult. Aside from Jamal, the other adult performances are weak and unconvincing, just like the storyline near the end.

The fact that Jamal's brother, who has been an evil and cunniving brute all his life, eventually redeems himself and saves Latika. However, there was no build-up to this extreme change in character. Throughout the film, even as a child it has been obvious that he does not care for anyone bar himself, and even as an adult, proves he has not grown out of this flaw. When Latika is kidnapped, we don't see Jamal's brother in torment and conflicting with ideas on what to do. We do not see him feeling all the shame from a lifetime of being a nasty person, build up inside his head and become so strong that he goes against everything he has ever done- and helps another, putting his own life in danger.

Another problem, is the leading actress. Don't get me wrong, Freida Pinto is one of the most beautiful women in the world today, but her acting is bland and dull and awkward. Not once did I feel that she loved Jamal, or had lived a long, suffering life. Nor when she is finally reunited with Jamal at the end does it feel like she is finally free and with the man she has always loved. We feel that from Jamal, enormously, but not her.

My final problem with this film was the ending. Not only did it completely let the rest of the film down with some of the worst soppy lines in any film, but the cast break out into a "Bollywood" dance. Considering there is nothing remotely Indian or Bollywood about this movie, it just seems random and doesn't fit in with anything else in the film. This movie is a British take on a story that is set in India. Nothing Bollywood about it. The dance at the end is annoying, not even well choreographed- and a total insult to the seriousness of the entire film that ran before it. I found some of the scenes in this movie very disturbing, so to make a joke of the terrible journey Jamal has been on to get where he is at the end of the movie, doesn't make any sense.
I did enjoy Slumdog Millionaire- I thought the editing was sharp and it was all beautifully photographed, but the script was poor, and many of the adult actors were incredibly weak. What saves this picture is the child cast and Dev Patel, who bring life to the script.

Outstanding performances from the children.
Did it deserve Best Picture at the Academy Awards? No, it didn't. The technical awards it did deserve, but not Best Picture. It is a good film, but not a great film: it isn't better than most films. But when it's running for Best Picture the same year as such magnificent triumphs as WALL.E. and Changeling, both of which are masterpieces in cinema which didn't even get nominated in that category, the Academy should be appalled. Those two films should have at least been nominated, and are one billion times better acted, better edited, better everything more than Slumdog Millionaire. Everyone kept ranting that it was the 'feel-good film of the decade', well I was not uplifted when it finished, I was relieved for Jamal, but I was not uplifted like I was after watching It's a Wonderful Life or The Shawshank Redemption. This film is worth watching, but not one of the all time greats- not by a long shot.

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