Sunday, March 01, 2009
Disclaimer: I know I spelled Millionaire wrong (aren't you proud of me for knowing? Usually my spelling mistakes are based on complete ignorance)
I had heard a little bit about this movie over the last few weeks; we didn't watch the Academy awards so I didn't know that it received like eight Oscar's. If I'd known, I probably wouldn't have gone to it--I have a certain level of distrust in regard to the Academy Awards; it's one of my many conspiracy theories and lingers right up there with dental insurance and the price of computer ink.
Anyway, I didn't know about the Academy Awards, like I said, but I'd heard a radio person I respect say good things and then my good friend Carole Thayne said she liked it. Well, Carole is one of those people that I just trust implicitly. It's probably a good thing she's never tried to convince me that dental insurance isn't pure extortion, because I would probably believe that and it would throw all my conspiratorial thoughts into a spiral. However, the reason I trust her is because she is 100% honest, and about 90% of the time I 100% agree with her. The other 10% never gets in our way, which is a relief. So I heard about Slumdog on the radio and Carole liked it--that's like a six star review in my book.
But the movie is rated R. Now, I am not a rating worshiper. In fact I think PG 13 is the most ambiguous and misleading rating ever invented. Case in point: two weeks ago my husband was going to take our almost-13-year-old to Taken. I looked up the review and here's one of the 'sexual' scenes relayed "A man walks through an area where curtains are strung up creating rooms where young women lie in cots (most are unconscious from drugs) and men have sex with them" Yeah, turns out it was about girls being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves. We decided that wasn't the kind of movie we wanted to see, let alone take our child to. For really good detailed movie reivews check out www.kidsinmind.com they are not opinion reviews, they are based on specific scenes and have a rating system I have found quite reliable.
I'm getting distracted. So, back to Slumdog--it is rated R. But since movie ratings are another of my conspiracies, AND I trust Carole's opinions, AND I am not afraid to walk out of movies, AND my husband had been out of town all week and I was stircrazy to have the 5 minute drive all to myself with him--we decided to go.
Through the whole movie I waited for THE SCENE--you know, the horrible, gratuitous, totally inappropriate scene that necessitated the R rating. I waited for that scene, but it never came. Weird huh? Instead of these gratuituous, hyper-violetnt, sexual or inappropriate scenes, we watched a beautiful, stunning, wonderful movie about an exceptional young man who rises above everything. The leading themes of this movie, for me, were love, faith, redemption and how all these things are more powerful than circumstances. Lee and I discussed at length on the way home why in the world this was rated R. The only thing we could come up with was that it is very real--at times in a very raw I-don't-want-to-believe-these-kind-of-things-really-happen. But they do happen--every day they happen and the movie didn't seem to take advantage of showing the details to the degree they likely could have gotten away with. I came home with a renewed desire to keep goodness alive in the world so that people seeking it can find something to hold onto. I'm not sure how I'm going to do that, but it was something I was reminded up very strongly by this film.
So, here is the premis without giving up the story. Jamal Melik (might be wrong about the last name) and his brother, Salim, grow up in the slumps of Mumbai (check spelling). They are poor and are eventually orphaned which leads them to an orphanage where Salim is 'picked' to be a 'dog', meaning he is a kind of assistant to the leader of the orphanage who is a horrible, despicable man. Eventually they escape and grow up on the streets of Bombay by way of numerous cons, thefts, and other street-life-induced ways of supporting themselves. At a certain point they part ways. Salim makes his life through crime, Jamal is driven to recconect with a girl they met as children. We see the scenes of his life intersperced by Jamal's current situation which is that he is a contestant on the India version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (pronounced Millunair when said in English with an Indian accent). Each question he's asked is cleverly tied to an experience of Jamal's life, but the better he does, the higher the stakes become.
And that's all I'm going to say about that.
As for what to warn you about--there are raw parts of this film, specifically:
*The F word is said once
*There are rather brutal interrigation practices employed--not grapic
*There is a scene that shows the bare bum of a little boy who was the victim of a mean prank (which he totally deserved, IMO)
*There is a scene where two teenage boys walk through the red light district and find a girl who is being prepared to be sold as a virgin--not graphic
*There is a scene where a girl basically agrees to be raped in order to save a boy's life--not graphic, terribly heartbreaking.
*There is a scene where a little boy is made blind by adults--THIS was the most horrible scene of the movie. It's not horribly graphic, but it makes it hard to breathe to realize this could happen to a child.
*There is a shoot out scene, where two men are killed--intense but not graphic
*There is a shooting scene where one horrible man is killed--not grapic
*There is a scene where a young woman is cut on the face--scary and intense but not graphic
*There is a scene where a boy is going to the bathroom in a decrepit outhouse with a hole in the floor. Two boys talk about 'pooping' and then the one boy has to get out of the outhouse through the 'pit'. This was very gross, but was relayed in a more funny way than just disgusting.
That's all I can think of right now. As a final note, this isn't a movie I want my kids (ages 14 and 12) to see right now, but when they are older I think it would actually be a good film for them to see--in order to realize just how protected we are in this country. But I want them to be more mature so that they can fully understand that the lives relayed in this film are REAL. Millions of people live this way.
Anyhoo, there is my not-so-short review. I don't think I gave away too much--but if you've seen the movie and you think I did, please tell me so I can adjust the review. For a more detailed review go HERE