Monday, January 26, 2009
An uncharacteristic surge of cultural conscientiousness sent me out to see the three hot films of the moment - Gus Van Sant's Milk (wonderful), Ron Howard's Frost Nixon (very good) and Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire (bad). Milk was wonderful because Van Sant eats celluloid for breakfast, he's all movies and it shows in every shot and every cut. Frost Nixon was good because Howard had Peter Morgan's script, Frank Langella and Michael Sheen and he found a style for the content. Slumdog Millionaire was bad morally and aesthetically. The moral problem was... well, there must be many ways in which one can get from the blinding of a child to improve his begging to a Bollywood mass dance in Mumbai Station but Boyle had not found one and concluding that romantic love conquers all doesn't work too well if you've just spent the previous two hours showing that it emphatically does not. Aesthetically, the film has no style only effect and only two good performances - Anil Kapoor as the Indian Chris Tarrant and Irrfan Kahn as the police inspector. Everybody else is inert, probably immobilised beneath Boyle's frenetic fondness for any effect he can lay his hands on. As with his film Sunshine, one was permanently distracted by noticing random lifts from other movies - I got Billy Wilder's The Apartment once in this, which was odd. I guess it's in the Oscars because Hollywood wants a slice of the Indian action. Pity.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:27 am