(Note: We're rerunning this review from Telluride to coincide with the film's theatrical release tomorrow)
By: Kim Voynar
Fans of director Danny Boyle's work will find much to appreciate in his latest film, Slumdog Millionaire, a sweeping, hopeful story about a boy in the slums of India who becomes an instant celebrity after he wins millions on India's version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) off the novel Q &A by Vikas Swarup, the tale is framed within an interesting narrative structure that revolves around the young man, Jamal, being interrogated for fraud by the police, who cannot believe that a "slumdog" orphan could possibly have known the answers to the questions on the show.
Boyle uses this conceit to take us back and forth from the police station, where Jamal (Dev Patel) is tortured to get him to confess how he cheated, to his appearance on the show, to the events throughout his youth that led to him knowing the answers to the game show questions. How did a boy growing up in the slums amid piles of garbage and filth know which US president is on the one hundred dollar bill, or who invented the revolver? Boyle takes us back through Jamal's life story to show us the mean-streets education that led to him knowing the answers, while managing to avoid making the set-up feel contrived.