Wednesday, 25 February 2009

I didn't like Slumdog Millionaire

An opinion piece.


It's not a bad movie. It looks great, the actors are good, the story's fairly compelling and told in an interesting way. But I got the sense that at the end - after the beautiful girl says "Kiss me" to the poor boy who's been through so much, and the cast does a dance number over the credits - that I was supposed to be feeling good. Wiping away emotional tears and feeling all warm inside because the beautiful couple overcame the odds and now they can live happily ever after.

Instead I was miserable as hell. Because when you take away the love story and all the talk of "destiny" - which, let's face it, is Hollywood bullshit - what you're left with is a movie about a hideous reality that millions of people have to endure every single day. And they don't get a happy ending.

Take away the impossibly beautiful girl and the impossibly lucky guy, and it's a story about kids scavenging for food on immense rubbish heaps, vicious gangsters burning out childrens' eyes with chemicals, religious-crazy mobs beating and burning the poor to death while the police stand by and watch, and men becoming millionaires by exploiting anyone less fortunate or more ethical than themselves. And these bits of the film aren't Hollywood bullshit. These are the bits that are based on reality.

Nevertheless, as lucky guy kisses beautiful girl and the dancing begins, I'm supposed to forget all the horror we've just witnessed and sing along.

Unless, maybe, I'm not. Maybe Danny Boyle has done something very clever, and disguised a depressing bit of social commentary as a feelgood love story. Maybe he's like a Ninja Ken Loach. Maybe everybody who sees it walks out of the theatre as suicidal as I did, guilty and hopeless and wishing as-soon-as-possible extinction on the human species.

Still; beautiful girl.


synthmon said...

I made much the same point when writing my review. Slumdog Millionaire hits the bullseye when it comes to acting, setting, script etc. But it all boils down to a very conventional flick but for the setting, which is truly what you should view it for.

LesFleurs said...

Do you like Andrzej Wajda films?

Keeno said...

ah no... surely you missed the point?
I know exactly where you're coming from and many's a time i should be all warmed and comforted in Hollywood's smalzy bosom, and I'm left gagging and filled with bile and hate.

But i think the "Hollywood Bulshit" is the point of this. Most people watching the film will be aware that India - in fact, the whole world, Mumbai's not unique is it? - is full of hate, greed, suffering, cruelty and death. So that's a given. That's background noise in our mind, like the hum of a fridge that we get used to until someone says "fridge noise!" then we're aware

But Slumdog presented an almost impossible scenario, all dressed up as hope, and destiny and goodness and light.
And I bought into it. So i think i was lucky.

And I think most people will have walked out of the cinema thinking "there is hope, there is love, there are good things, we're not all doomed"
Even if they're just fooling themselves for a few hours until the next report of mass murder, collapsing greedy fucking banks, and new strains of death and pain flicks up on their TV screens.

Mike said...

Didn't work for me. Maybe because I went in expecting something cute; which I probably shouldn't have, given the title (like, duh! - the clue is in the word "slum").

Debra said...

I wasn't crazy over it either. I thought it was predictable. I'd give it a 3 on a scale of 1-5. I liked last year's winner much better, "No Country for Old Men." I'd give that one a 5.