Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
With Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle unites Bollywood with Hollywood while combining potent human drama, some good-old adventure, and quite a bit of glossy Bollywood romance on top of that.
This might seem a daring project, but as such, it seems rather appropriate that Boyle was the one to make the move. The British director is among a handful of true auteurs working in the high profile film business today. His films always seem to tread semi-familiar waters with new and refreshing shoes, and more often than not, he does this without sinking. With Slumdog Millionaire, it could be argued that the filmmakers were bold making a film of this stature without any western performers. But then again, they have the privilege to play two markets simultaneously here (with 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire' as the common denominator), and the established Bollywood stars (notably Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan) have the presence to attract the extra attention from one of the two markets.
In structure and storytelling, Slumdog Millionaire has a universal appeal; the themes are large and recognizable: money, brotherhood, friendship and love. As a drama, the film works best in its first half, telling the story of our protagonists as children. The young performers do remarkably well as Boyle follows them around the lively and often merciless Mumbai slum, and the anecdotes which make up the story are powerful in both essence and execution.
Towards its final part, Slumdog Millionaire changes to more familiar big city mobster territory and the narrative junctures become more traditional, but Boyle keeps interest up by a clever untangling of the story and an equally clever title character. Dev Patelís acting is wisely low-key, making his performance grow stronger and stronger as the film moves along.
Boyle can change continents, but he will never stray too far off his trademark theme, and as the title suggests, the chase for the big money is central in Slumdog Millionaire. After all, this is a rather classic tale of the poor man pursuing the gold and the princess, and as a romance, this is as perfectly fairytalish as films come. But hey, itís Bollywood, and itís damn well done.