Slumdog Millionaire

At first, just after the credits started rolling, I was a little underwhelmed by Slumdog Millionaire. Eight Oscars? Is this the movie that robbed Milk (or, if we can dream, The Dark Knight) of its Best Picture award?

But, as is often the case, a little thinking over and reflecting can greatly change your opinion. When I woke up this morning (hmm, that sounds like a blues song), merely 12 hours after seeing Slumdog Millionaire, I was deeply in love with the movie.

Its main assets to root for : the fantastic cinematography (I love the various transitions between the young and adult Jamal), great music and a strong direction by Danny Boyle. I have never seen Shallow Grave, Trainspotting or 28 Days Later (his three most acclaimed flicks), but I have seen A Life Less Ordinary, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So even after only two movies, I can safely say that Boyle knows his game. Great director, well-deserved Academy Award.

The outrage, however, is that none of the actors were singled out for a Best (Supporting) Actor/Actress nomination. Dev Patel is simply fantastic as the doubting, stuttering, romance-struck Jamal. The three main child actors (the younger versions of the lead characters) are very convincing. Truth to be told : we don't know what their future brings. A lot of child actors simply are good, because they are cute. An audience tends to forgive overacting when it comes to a child. As it stands, they're all terrific. Here's to a bright future for all involved.

And how incredibly great (and, on top of that, stunningly beautiful) is Freida Pinto? The legendary Woody Allen has already picked her up for his upcoming feature. Let me get this straight : Woody Allen has been laughed at, he has been praised, he has been called an oaf, he has been dubbed a genius, he's 74, he's small and he's not the prettiest guy in the world. But he worked with Scarlett Johansson and Freida Pinto? OK. Right. Justice has been served.

Slumdog Millionaire's biggest achievement is its "edge of your seat"-element. I literally moved to the edge of my seat twice during the heart pounding finale. You care for these characters, you want to see a happy ending.

Is this the best movie of 2008? Does it deserve the 8 Oscars? Tough question. Milk is equally stunning, but you can't compare the two. But all the praise that's been heaped upon Slumdog Millionaire is deserved. What a gem!

Julian De Backer, 19 March 2009

P.S. stay during the credits for a dance number in true Bollywood style. I have never ever seen a Bollywood product, but I know the main ingredients are "singing" and "dancing". "Holding hands" is considered to be the ultimate when it comes to romance.