Why Slumdog Millionaire Sucks My Anus

It was a dark and cold depressive wintry night.

I lay in my bed, unmade, uncomfortable.

My thoughts spun and I looked at the world and thought about the state of things.

Soon, we would have a new president.

This war in Gaza might even be ending sometime soon too, to the relief of all.

Tomorrow, it will be warmer.

Also it will be Friday.

All pleasant thoughts.

Then, reality intruded.

A dark cloud.

I looked at my life and I realized-

Slumdog Millionaire is probably going to win the Oscars.

Eek-

Is the word that comes closest to my mind.

Slumdog Millionaire, for those who haven’t seen in it, is an inspiring story of torture, prostitution, violent gang murders, forced marriage and the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”.

It’s also a load of shit.

Unlike the film Pan’s Labyrinth, another visually-interesting fairy-tale epic, Slumdog offers us no real characters nor emotions. That film saw a young girl experience adolescence and the fear of growing up, simultaneous to her questioning whether there is good in the world, arresting experiences anyone could deal with. In this film, we are offered parodies of emotions. Jamal is good because he embraces true love, that ever incorruptable pay-off of a maxim. Jamal’s brother is bad because he is money-minded and pragmatic and must die for his acceptance of the real world. The thugs are rapists and torturers who kill and exploit coldly, happily, monsters without motivation. Even our high-class game show host is an enemy whose moment of a hissy fit seems disingenuous to say the least.

Which is what could be said of the whole film. What is this film trying to say? When Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, the tale of another young orphan making his way through dregs to riches, he was talking about the immutibility of class and what people do to survive in such a world. Oliver never goes from low-class to high-class; he is born high-class, is mistaken in a comedy of errors and returns. Fagin and The Artful Dodger and poor Nancy must contend with their lives. For them, there is no escape. Yet all this film is, is escapism without message. It’s petty moralism without motivation. Even Disney had motivation.

Others have defended this film as escapist fare. This is what Bollywood is, I’ve heard said. Well, I’m not an expert on Bollywood. But I do know a thing or two about American escapist fare and I can tell you this: the good ones are dark. It’s A Wonderful Life? Better be grateful for your crappy job and the po-dunk town you’ll never leave. Singin’ in the Rain? The only way a star is made is to destroy another one. The Sound of Music? What do you think happened to the people who didn’t get away from the Nazis?

What this film was does have are stylistic flourishes in abundance and colonial moralism. Danny Boyle is a stylistic and often very interesting directory. However, he brings a colonialist’s eye to India, oversimpliying life in order to show some interesting colors and shots. Simon Beaufoy, the screenwriter is equally at fault for constructing a story with simple tropes: poor kids=sad, Love=good, love+courage=miracles. If I wanted this kind of moralistic simplicity I’d go get drunk and watch a Tyler Perry movie.

It’s as I’ve said: Film is a powerful medium. Sometimes, it’s very hard to resist feeling emotions that a director wants you to feel. After all, they have so much to work with, from close-ups of teary eyes to desperate screams to wailing violin music soaring into ecstacy when the hero gets the girl. However, at the end of it all, you have to ask yourself, was that honest what I felt? Because if you felt something not because you believed in the characters or the story, but just because of the tricks a director can play on you, then it’s not a good movie. I can go see Marley and Me tomorrow and think, “Wow, that’s a cute dog” or “Marley, stay away from that car!”. However, if I get out of the film and realize, wait a second, I hate dogs, then the movie sucks because its failed in some way to give me a true emotional experience; to change me.

So Academy, you have a choice. You can give the award to a hollow, empty film that makes people feel good about complicated issues by simplifying them and then patting them on the back, like you did with Crash.

Or you can give the award to Milk, a worthy if unspectacular film with excellent politics.

You could give the award to Gran Torino, a fun film filled with Clint Eastwood’s death growls.

You could give the award to Happy-Go-Lucky or WALL-E or Rachel Getting Married or any of number of worthy Oscar contenders, films all that made a difference and changed the people who saw them.

But knowing you, the urge to self-congratulate is too great.

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8 Responses to Why Slumdog Millionaire Sucks My Anus

  1. Brennan says:

    My personal favorite for the year was The Reader, although all of the criticisms of it are valid, I felt that it was an elegant, not uncomplicated, and fresh approach to thoroughly canvassed subject matter. That said, I haven’t yet seen Revolutionary Road, Wendy and Lucy, or possibly others. I know The Reader won’t win, and I don’t necessarily think it should, despite being my personal favorite.

    In its defense, Marley and Me is not as simple as the previews make it seem. Yes, it is quite cute, but since it was adapted from a memoir it’s really about life and self-discovery, and worth a viewing, even if you don’t like dogs.

    We can discuss all this more on Monday, but one final thought: was I the only one who didn’t think Wall-E was that great?

  2. Anne Zinta says:

    To be honest….Slumdog Millionaire Sucks…..no depiction of truth…yep it sucks big time….only darker side of mumbai is shown and in fact muslim women and men get too much freedom in India that is even not possible in pakistan as well as middle-east countries. The undying and lively spirit of Mumbai should also been shown. And yes this is recorded:It is only city in the world that after going through series of blasts since 1991 (of course conducted by muslim terrorists) still has peaceful ambience (because Hindus & Christains of Mumbai never strongly reacted). This element of tolerance was absent in the movie which makes it void in loss of facts.

  3. G says:

    Thanks for standing up and saying this movie is not that great. It is so tiring hearing how this B- movie is Oscar worthy.
    some thoughts:
    While it is nice to see a movie based in India that doesn’t make it a great film.

    The film is just a slightly above mediocre Hollywood movie that has Indian actors instead of Americans.

    The film is ultra predictable, cheesy, and the characters are shallow.

    Why does he fall in love with her? There is no real chemistry between the characters. The audience is given no reason to believe there is any connection there. Why does he like her? She is hot? That is it.

    The good looking people get together and get rich, the bad and not as pretty people lose, die, get shot, The End. How many films are like this? Like a million…

    This is style (cute kids, great scenery in the movie) over substance.

  4. joe bob says:

    Anne Zinta you missed the whole point of the movie. The movie was not made to represent Mumbai and just because it does not represent mumbai completey; does not make it a bad movie. I wonder about your intelligence; when your arguement states that because the good of Mumbai is not represented the movie is a void of facts. Well, not to be mean but you do realize this is a movie about a boy who makes it rich by playing a game show. This MOVIE WAS NOT MADE TO BE REALISTIC

  5. fgsfds says:

    Slumdog Millionaire is one of the worst films I have seen.

  6. hans says:

    Yes I agree the movie sucks story-wise. Ridiculous joining of a cheesy game show with the unbelivable story with little or no character establishment. LIke someone else said above, it only shows the dark side of Mumbai, and none of the good. It doesn’t give you a good feeling of the Indian society at the end, which is unfortunate.

  7. just alotta big jew words, boy america’s dirty with yals smartypatnsing

    heres a revew that dontake five hours taread: See it fucked up and with a girl, good time, see it alone and give it an oscar, man you so stupid!

  8. sg says:

    Sucks a big time. Exploiting the stereo-types about India:
    – Taj Mahal
    – Bollywood
    – Poverty
    – Slums
    – Begging

    Holy shit…they missed cows!!

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