It has to be to go see the movie "Slumdog Millionaire." While the NY Times movie reviewer Manohla Dargis quite aptly characterized the movie as "one of the most upbeat stories about living in hell imaginable," I am here to tell you that it is poignant, dramatic, sad, uplifting, and unforgettable. You must see it.
The movie, directed by Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting" and "Shallow Grave" -- which I didn't see -- and "Millions" which I did see and thought was great, another movie with children at its center), tells the story of a young man (Jamal) from Mumbai, India who is a contestant on India's version of the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." The movie flashes back to the extremely harrowing episodes during Jamal's life that have coincidentally provided him with the answers to the increasingly difficult questions on the game show. It all sounds rather cooky, I know, but trust me, it works beautifully and almost seamlessly as the film goes back and forth between young Jamal's life and his present-day spin in the contestant's chair.
Boyle makes the most of the expert talents he has hired in photographers and editors to portray the beauty and simultaneous utter depravity of India in all its crowded and conflicting glory. This movie probably will not make you want to visit India any time soon, but it will give you a much better world view of life outside of America.
The movie starts out with a scene that is incredibly difficult to watch, as we get caught up in Jamal's life, and that of his brother and girl friend. We can't tear our eyes from the screen, no matter how bad things get. And, they do get bad. I've read a couple of reviews that commented on the scenes depicting the terrible abuse of children. These scenes are not gratuitous nor do they leave you feeling hopeless about the orphan's dilemma. In fact, these scenes left me with a confirmed belief in the resiliency of children, and the wonder at how one's one character may be honed by circumstance but is in truth already so much a part of you from the time you are born.
You will laugh, you will cry, you will find yourself sitting with your mouth wide open, wondering at how such a thing as depicted on screen could actually exist. It will make you hold hands with your husband (or wife) and hug your children when you get home. And, it will make you wonder why there can't be more movies like this one.