Reviewus Interruptus: “Slumdog Millionaire”

So the other night, my wife was feeling lazy and wanted to watch a movie. We went through the On-Demand options, watching the trailers … Confessions of a ShopaholicDuplicitySlumdog Millionaire … she thought they all looked interesting but decided she wanted to see the best-picture winner, so we bought Slumdog Millionaire. Unfortunately it immediately started with our young hero being subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” and went downhill from there.

My wife is not a big fan of watching “enhanced interrogation techniques” but she’s even less a fan of jump cuts and crazy camera angles.  Slumdog seemed to consist of nothing but crazy camera angles connected by a thin tissue of jump cuts. She quickly got irritated with the jaggy handheld visual style, then lost interest in the story and characters and fell asleep in 28 minutes, at which point I shut off the movie (which I hadn’t really gotten into myself) and wandered off to play a video game.  We still have Slumdog for about another 12 hours “On-Demand” but I don’t think we’re going to go back to it.

Because I didn’t watch anywhere close to the entire film, I can’t really review it.  Instead, here are some takeaways from 30 minutes of Slumdog Millionaire:

  • One should try to avoid being suspected of cheating on an Indian game show
  • If you want to get a famous person’s autograph, try to arrange to get yourself covered in poo first
  • Garbage dumps:  Not a great place to live.  There were some amazing scenes of squalor in this movie, but, again, they were ruined for us by the choppy editing.  Not long ago “The New Yorker” ran a lengthy article about the slums of India and it was interesting to compare what was shown in the film to what was described in the article.  (Quite a counterpoint to the last Indian film we watched, which was Monsoon Wedding.)
  • Annoying presentation can trump story (a phenomenon I’ve experienced in comic books with bad artwork)
  • Tilted handheld-style camera work and jump cuts might work in a disaster monster flick (Cloverfield) or a “fast-zombie” flick (Boyle’s own 28 Days Later) and in an artsy psychedelic musical (Moulin Rouge, another film my wife found extremely annoying, but that time she was trapped in the movie theater and had to sit through it [I rather liked it]), but maybe are out of place in a flashback-based drama where the framing device is an episode of “How To Be A Millionaire”

Oh well.  At least it only cost us $3.99.

10 thoughts on “Reviewus Interruptus: “Slumdog Millionaire”

  1. Why couldn’t you two have watched [and reviewed] Duplicity? That’s the one I rented and haven’t watched, yet.

    Also saw “Sunshine Cleaning” – not bad. Two or three contrived elements, but other than that, pretty touching.


  2. I haven’t seen ‘Slumdog’ but am relieved to read your non-review…jumpy hand helds always make me feel queasy, so that I can’t focus on the story either!


  3. I haven’t seen the movie, but have read so much about it that I FEEL like I have. I think I read that New Yorker article too. Sure lots of controversy over this movie, which may well be more interesting than the movie itself.


  4. Gosh, I really liked it. Go figure. I work with a lot of Indians and have heard about the slums and caste system and thought it captured things pretty well. My co-workers who have been to Indian and seen it first hand liked it too. Try La Zona for a different kind of movie about class distinctions.

    Me? I have Grand Torino and Homeboy queued up for the weekend, along with some episodes from Dexter Season 3 (kind of have to watch that since the main character is named after my dog).


  5. I still haven’t seen this one: it’s on the computer somewhere, but I sense it’s a winter thing.
    I read the book a few years ago and thought it was clever and original though.


  6. I watched the whole thing, but wasn’t in love with it. I thought the sound track was its standout feature. The handheld camera doesn’t do much for me either. You’ll be pleased to know the ending was nothing spectacular! I was really annoyed with it, in fact.


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