Slumdog Millionaire doesn’t just “have heart,” as some people say; this movie runs on heart. Heart is all it knows, its entire raison d’être, its focus and emphasis at the same time.
It’s a classic story with enough creativity to avoid feeling stale. The plot follows Jamal Malik through his childhood in the abject poverty of Bombay slums, eventually leading to his fateful appearance on India’s version of the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” and his attempts to reconnect with the girl he loves.
During the story, the city changes from Bombay to Mumbai, Jamal changes from boy to man and being chased by the police changes from an exciting childhood adventure to a terrifying game of chance. But Jamal is someone who knows who he is through and through, even when the world around him is constantly in flux.
The parts of the story come together like two hands interlocking fingers. The expert execution of flashback storytelling is a testament to director Danny Boyle’s adherence to form. His organic approach to directing, allowing the genre to lead his filmmaking process, has brought Boyle critical success dabbling in genres like zombie movies (28 Days Later), science fiction (Sunshine) and drama (Trainspotting).
It may be an optimistic story, but there is a reason it is rated R. This movie with heart is not for the faint of heart and some parts are downright hard to watch. There are no warm fuzzies in this one, but it does showcase one person’s pervasive, enduring and unadulterated faith in love. And in that way, one can’t help but think that the determined protagonist is on the right track.
Though the general feeling walking out of the theater is positive, calling it a feel-good film would be a misnomer. The point is not that the movie makes you feel happy or feel hopeful or feel sympathetic; the most important part is that it simply makes you feel. And experiencing that through film is a relatively rare experience.
LAURA KROEGER can be reached at email@example.com.