Slumdog Millionaire wasn’t the best movie of 2008. Movies like The Dark Knight and The Wrestler, neither of which were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, packed a much larger emotional and cinematographic wallop.
But that doesn’t mean Slumdog wasn’t great.
What stood out most was the seemingly chaotic and flashy editing techniques and cinematography. The slick, arid imagery and often claustrophobic shots reminded me visually of the 2002 Brazilian film City of God.
This is especially evident while watching the sharp and vivid Blu-Ray transfer.
But Slumdog, much like the 2007 film Darjeeling Limited, provides a glossy, glamorized, and Americanized view of what is, in reality, a very harsh situation for many in India.
Plot-wise, the film’s structure, which involved flashbacks to show how this young slum child could be smart enough to win on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, was novel.
Even though the many of the plot points were riddled with cliches (the forbidden and long-lost childhood sweetheart; the brother-turned-bad redeeming himself to help the protagonist), Slumdog was enjoyable, and steadily built tension until the exciting ending.
I don’t know if I’d call it a glamorised view of India (the whole acid blinding kids to make them more effective beggars didn’t make me wanna book a flight), but I will say something about the directing or the way it was shot made Salim and his brother’s childhood seem more adventurous than harrowing. But I liked the bad-brother cliche. I felt it showed in a subtle way that Salim wasn’t actually bad; he made hard choices and sacrificed his own innocence so his brother could keep his. I definitely liked it better than City of God, which had messier, conflicting (not in a good way) political and philosophical messages.