Film Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Critics have accurately called Slumdog Millionaire a masterpiece and a hymn. Director Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire is a modern day fairytale set in Mumbai, India. Slumdog Millionaire explodes with rich cinematography revealing the horrific vibrant tapestry of the Indian slums.

Jamal Malik, an uneducated eighteen-year-old Muslim orphan, has survived a lifetime of deprivation in the most gut-wrenching poverty imaginable. Young Jamal searches for his childhood sweetheart Latika. A stroke of good luck propels him onto the Indian version of the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. As the time clock ticks loudly, and each question answered, a nervous Jamal finds himself on the edge of winning an astounding twenty million rupees. Jamal’s success results in accusations of cheating. During police questioning, Jamal reveals his hope is not the jackpot, but of finding Latika who is his destiny.

I found Slumdog Millionaire to be one of the most beautiful stories brought to life on film. Slumdog Millionaire fills the screen with lighthearted moments. The R rating is for violence and language, neither, is gratuitous. As my DH Mike says, “Sometimes life is rated R.” I am selective of the movies I allow in my life. I will not let the Hollywood rating system determine my choices. We could debate ad nauseam over the R rating, but suffice it to say, I believe I am following the current prophet with his admonition to the youth, “Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable.” For me, Slumdog Millionaire fits this standard.

I was mesmerized by the theme of destiny. As a Latter-day Saint I have pondered to what extent does destiny influence my life? My patriarch blessing tells me I have an earthy mission to fulfill. I take this to be evidence of my destiny. Russell M. Nelson has spoken, “Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, such, each has a divine nature and destiny”.

So my questions to you dear reader, what is your definition of destiny? What is your personal destiny?

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

22 thoughts on “Film Review: Slumdog Millionaire

  1. I teach film classes at a university and I think this is the best movie I’ve ever seen, but maybe that’s because when I was watching it I saw it as a parable for mortality, with the Bollywood dance at the end a representation of a joyful reception in the post-mortal spirit world. That said, every aspect of this movie is wonderful: the editing, music score, cinematography, script, even the acting.

    The R-rated “controversy” to me is a perfect example of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. I suppose some people apply the R-rating as a matter of principle, but I can’t figure out what the principle is. Why would anyone turn over their discretion to a board of people who don’t share their values? I like the way JA articulates his approach, and I wish more LDS followed that prophetic admonition instead of the apocryphal (or at least outdated) R-rating guideline.

  2. JA, I would like to see this movie. Personally, I have a selective approach to the rating system, much like you do. Everybody here can tell stories about some PG-13 movies they have seen that are much worse than an R-rated movie they have seen. Do I regret having seen “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” because they are R-rated? No way.

    I just saw “Gran Torino,” which is R-rated for constant bad language and some violence, but I thought it was a great movie.

    What I can’t stand is gratuitous violence, sex and/or language — if I see that I usually walk away from those movies. It IS possible to make a movie dealing with difficult subjects without throwing in unnecessary swear words and violence and/or sex. Anybody who doesn’t believe that should go see “Invincible,” which is set in a working class bar most of the time yet never a swear word is heard. Do you miss the bad language in that movie? I think not.

  3. JA, This is another movie I need to add to my list. Perhaps I will find time to watch this one in the theater instead of via Redbox DVD rental.

    Geoff, I saw “Gran Torino” with my wife a few weeks ago–great movie!!

    I try to be selective about which movies I watch and try to vet the movie for anything I might find objectionable or contrary to my standards.

  4. I was amazed when we left the theater and my wife reminded me Slumdog was rated R. It does have some violence and language, but nowhere near what I’d expect in an R movie. I would recommend this to any adult, whether they see R movie or not.

  5. You’ve convinced me that I want to see this movie. Based on other reviews I’ve read, I suspected that it would be good, but having chosen to follow the (more explicit) ratings counsel (from the prophet of my youth) more strictly, I won’t see it in the theater.

    [Yeah, yeah... Feel free to insert any personal judgments you feel necessary here. Whatever. I've exercised my personal judgment, and I'm okay with that.]

    That said…

    I fly internationally for work on a fairly frequent basis, and I’m about 98% certain that the “airline version” will be playing on a small screen in the back of the headrest in front of me within the next year.

    …just wish I could bring these versions home for my jealous wife. :-)

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. JJohnsen and Jonathan N Amen!

    Geoff #3 Taylor #6 The ratings system during the time of President Benson were G, PG, R and X. Most movies now rated PG-13 would be R rated back in the day. For example, DH Mike and I walked out of the Dark Knight rated PG-13. It was just too intense for us. Slumdog Millionaire was a walk in the park in comparision. It is time we cast off the opinions of Hollywood, live the higher law by seeking out the best and then choose for ourselves.

  7. While I enjoyed Dark Knight, I totally agree with JA Benson. If I were to guess the rating for each, I would have thought PG-13 for Slumdog, R for Dark Knight. If you agree with the ratings board that nudity and sexual situation are much, much worse than violence, then you can trust ratings. If you don’t agree that sex is worse than swearing, which is worse than violence, then it is wiser to consult websites or friends that you trust to get a better idea of what will be offensive to you.

    Slumdog Millionaire is rated R for violence, disturbing images and language, I’d love to know how those three things equal R while something like Dark Knight (intense sequences of violence and some menace) or the latest Die Hard (intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation) are only PG-13.

    And not to go on a rant, but Die Hard 4 is one of the most violent movies I have ever seen, but because an explosion bleeps out the main character using the F word, all is well in the world. I could go on and on about how the MPAA is totally useless for me as a moviegoer and a parent.

  8. I’ve never quite understood the rationale that says, “R-rated movies today are *way* worse than they were twenty years ago, so we should ignore the older statements about not watching R-rated movies.” If anything, this shift should make us consider PG-13′s more carefully.

    (…and it sounds like all of us agree and are doing that.)

    Believe me, I’m quite selective about the PG-13′s as well. Again, just my personal choice. I’ve found kidsinmind.com to be a great resource for a pretty objective (and detailed) look at what’s in a movie.

  9. Sounds like everybody on this thread is saying the same thing which is, “use your common sense, listen to the Spirit, try to watch things that are uplifting and avoid entertainment that is not.” Different people have different ways of being uplifted and different things that offend the Spirit. That’s cool.

  10. Isn’t it supposed to be the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law?! Loved it JA!

  11. The way I see it, is some people need specific rules (or letter of the law) in order to stay on the right path. The G,PG,R,X ratings worked well for these people. The boundaries were clear and established no thinking for themselves were involved. Then Holly wood started created grey areas like Planes, Trains and Automobiles. A great holiday movie staring the late great John Candy and Steve Martin. An easy PG movie except for one word. So they create the the PG-13 rating and the grey area gets larger.

    Now the *mists* have been introduced and we have to rely on our common sense, intelligence and the sprit to know what is right for us to stay on the path. This is living the higher law which is a spiritual law .

  12. @JA Benson
    I have chosen to not attend R movies. I now understand why. The rating system works for me because I am one of those individuals who is not interested in thinking for myself. Reliance on common sense, intelligence, and the Spirit are beyond my grasp. Fortunately, because I believe in the principle of eternal progression, perhaps I can someday aspire to live the higher law. JA, your insights have been most enlightening.

  13. JB Welker-
    I am sorry to have hurt your feelings it is not my intention to do so. I was speaking of the old rating system. Perhaps you can understand my viewpoint, and I can understand yours. There are very few R rated movies I have/will see. I also see very few PG-13 movies. Of the few R movies I have seen Slumdog was by far the softest R. I have just gotten annoyed at members that come unglued over a movie like Slumdog or The Passion, yet will see Dark Knight, Anchorman, Die Hard etc… any old crap out there as long as it is PG-13.

    Slumdog had swearing and the the biggie word. No sex, some violence. The swearing was what made it an R. If swearing does nothing to you, like me then this is not a movie you would find offensive. Me personally, I am uncomfortable with sex, and heavy violence is just too much for me. For me, to have missed a movie like Slumdog over a word my kids hear daily at school would be a shame. The message of honor, love, destiny and perseverance was just too good to miss. Also as a Westerner I think it is good to see how others live. It makes me appreciate the blessings of being an American.

    I will say it again I will not let some anonymous bunch in Hollywood determine whether I will see a movie or not. I do not see many movies and what I choose to spend my entertainment dollar on is going to be uplifting and/or very entertaining.

  14. People get so freaked out about the rating system and whether or not anybody is judging them if they go to R-rated movies. Everybody, just chill out and do whatever you want to do. Nobody here is judging you.

  15. Yeah for Slumdog Millionaire the big winner at the Oscars!

    Best Picture
    Director
    Adapted Screenplay
    Original Score
    Original Song
    Cinematography
    Film Editing

  16. I am also a LDS member and I feel an obligation, though on my own will, that I should follow the R-rating guideline. My seminary teacher has taught on this topic and provided several quotations of the apostles that strongly urges people not to attend to these kinds of entertainment. Also the youth my age in church has proclaim that they will not view R-rated movies. this actually quite bothers me because I want to continue living on a high standard. I’ve heard so many great comments and I for one would love an inspirational movie, particularily a story that speaks of true love and destiny. Could anyone give me some suggestion or maybe a couple of opinions?

  17. Hi Lucy, Thanks for stopping by. I commend you for your faithfulness. A couple of movies, off the top of my head, which are very clean, with a true love and destiny theme are *You’ve Got Mail*, *Princess Bride* and *Somewhere in Time*.

    Anyone else have suggestions???

  18. I enjoyed your review JA. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but plan to. After reading your review and the question you posed at the end, it made me think about my perceptions of destiny, my own patriarchal blessing, and that led me to wonder if the character Jamal were to have had one before or after “being on the verge of winning 20 million rupees” what might it have said?! I can’t wait to go see the movie and ponder that while I enjoy a rare night out at the movies.

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